Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP therapy, for short) has become immensely popular as a treatment for various injuries, especially athletic-related injuries. An innovative technique that effectively speeds up the body’s self-healing capabilities, PRP therapy involves drawing blood from the patient, running it through a centrifuge to separate out and concentrate the platelet count, then reinjecting the enriched plasma at the point of injury. It’s a safe, effective procedure with minimal side effects, which is why a growing number of physicians use it — including the ones at Polaris Spine and Neurosurgery Center.
PRP therapy isn’t a miracle procedure that heals every injury. Rather, doctors use it to target specific types of injuries and ailments.
One of the most common and most effective uses of PRP therapy is to treat tendon injuries caused by repetitive movement (for example, tennis elbow, “jumper’s knee” or torn rotator cuffs). These types of injuries can be difficult to heal, not just because of repeated aggravation but also because blood flow to the tendons can be poor. PRP helps concentrate the healing platelet cells at the site of the tear so the tissues can regenerate more quickly.
PRP therapy can also be an effective tool for treating acute injuries of muscles and ligaments — for example, pulled hamstrings, plantar fasciitis, sprains or pulled thigh muscles. Early tearing of the tendon (not chronic) may also fall into this category. PRP accelerates the natural healing process with platelet concentration up to 10 times what the body usually produces on its own.
PRP treatments can work to slow or halt the progression of osteoarthritis — also known as chronic degenerative joint disease. (PRP has proven especially effective in knee and hip joints, but also in shoulders and ankles.) The injections can reduce inflammation at the joints, enable more lubrication and, in some cases, even enable new cartilage to grow.
Many neurosurgeons are turning to PRP therapy as a treatment for various nerve injuries in the peripheral nervous system, such as sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome and similar injuries. The therapy proves effective in helping regenerate nerve tissues, reducing pain and restoring proper function.
For open wounds that aren’t healing properly, PRP therapy can be useful for bringing a higher concentration of platelets to the wound site, fighting infection and encouraging coagulation.
PRP is being used more and more to treat certain injuries and pain in the back and spine areas. These include treatment of sacroiliac joints, facet joints, bulging/herniated discs and more. Plasma injections in these sites can reduce pain and inflammation and promote healing of the tissues, and in many situations, prevent the need for surgery.
No, it doesn’t — nor does it always work the same way on the same types of injuries. Everyone responds a bit differently to PRP therapy, which means it may be more effective for some patients than others. In addition, PRP may be less effective in situations where existing injuries continue to be aggravated, creating scar tissue, etc. Your doctor will be able to give you a clearer understanding of what to expect realistically in your situation, as well as to let you know whether the treatments are working as effectively as they should — or indeed, whether you are a good candidate for the treatment at all.
Since PRP therapy doesn’t treat everyone the same way, it’s important to keep multiple treatment options on the table. At Polaris Spine and Neurosurgery Center, PRP is just one of a whole array of options we have available for the effective treatment of injuries, especially of the back, spine, joints and nerves. Other options may include stem cell therapy, physical therapy, aquatic therapy, medical massage, acupuncture and surgery. To find out more about PRP therapy and the various types of injuries it may effectively treat, give us a call at 404-256-2633.