What is Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment or PRP Therapy
For a long time, the field of medicine has been coming up with different solutions to treat chronic pain. Chronic pain is, basically, the pain that lasts for longer than 12 weeks. It appears because after those 12 weeks the human body stops recognizing that the area is injured and stops the natural healing process. Luckily, this condition can be treated with Platelet-Rich Plasma treatment. The treatment mainly concentrates on accelerating the healing process in injured ligaments, joints, and muscles. It is also the favored treatment of athletes to help them in the process of their recovery. Read on to learn more about PRP treatments and how they can be useful for you.
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP is blood plasma that contains concentrated platelets. These platelets are blood cells that form blood clots to help your wounds stop bleeding. They are filled with bioactive proteins such as growth factors that are crucial for initiating and accelerating tissue repair and regeneration. The bioactive proteins are useful in stimulating the wound healing process, promoting the generation of new blood vessels, starting the healing of connective tissue, bone regeneration, and repair. The treatment is done through injections by trained physicians. They might be done with the guidance of ultrasound or C-arm to provide the injured or inflamed ligaments, muscles, and joints with healing factors.
What are tendons & ligaments?
Tendons are the tissue that attach muscles to the bone, hence, giving you the ability to do physical activities. They are made of strong fibrous collagen and when a tendon gets damaged or overused over a long period, these collagen fibers start to form micro tears in the connective tissue, creating a condition called tendinosis. Most commonly, the tendons that get damaged are the knee, ankle, shoulder, wrist, biceps, calf, and Achilles tendons.
Ligaments are flexible fibrous tissue that hold bones or joints together. They are made of collagen fibers that stabilize joints and control the range of motion. A damaged ligament can no longer support the joint, hence, the joint weakens.
The blood supply in tendons and ligaments is limited. Being under the pressure of everyday activities, they are not able to recover from the damage easily. As a consequence, the tendons and ligaments become unproductive and cause weaknesses and chronic pain.
How does PRP Therapy Work?
In preparation for PRP, patients are supposed to give a small amount of blood. The blood is, then, put in a machine called centrifuge which spins it for approximately 25 minutes. As a result, the concentration of platelets and growth factors inside the blood increase up to ten times their normal amount.
In the next step, PRP is injected into the injured area causing mellow inflammation in the tendon or ligament. This, in turn, triggers the body’s natural healing process. Consequently, new collagen is developed in the injured area and as it matures and starts to shrink, it causes the tendons or ligaments of the damaged area to tighten and strengthen.
I’ve heard of Cortisone Shots; are these the same?
Cortisone shots and PRP are not the same. In fact, although cortisone shots may have a short-term positive effect on the injury and provide relief, scientific studies have shown that cortisone shots might have a negative effect. Doctors refrain from providing the treatment more than a couple of times since it strongly affects the strength of the tissue. Cortisone shots don’t have a long-term effect, while PRP treatments heal and strengthen the tendons and ligaments. According to some cases, PRP has proved to make tissue stronger and thicker by almost 40%.
What are the Potential Benefits of Treatment?
After PRP treatment, patients can experience considerable progress in their symptoms. Many patients also report a remarkable increase in functionality. The treatment might even be an alternative solution next to long-term medication or surgery.
How many treatments & How often is this therapy?
In most cases (80-85%), patients only require one treatment per problem, however, might need 2 to 6 sets of injections. The treatments are distributed 4 to 6 weeks apart and there is no limit on how many treatments you are able to have as the risks and side effects stay the same with any number of injections.
Is PRP therapy right for me?
In case of a tendon or ligament injury, where traditional medication doesn’t show any results, PRP therapy might be the answer. In comparison with surgery, PRP is cheaper and less intense. It heals tissue without scars and eliminates possible future degeneration of the tissues. With every patient, there needs to be an evaluation, where the doctor will decide if PRP therapy is the one for you.
PRP injections can be used to treat:
- Sacroiliac joint
- Iliolumbar ligaments
- Facet Joints
- Interspinous ligaments
- Rotator cuff–partial tears
- Biceps tendinosis
- Chronic glenohumeral ligament sprains
- Acromioclavicular joint dysfunction and pain
- Levator scapulae tendinosis
- Epicondylitis–medial and lateral–tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow
- Ulnar collateral ligament injury
- Distal biceps tendon partial tear
Wrist & Hand
- Chronic thumb sprain
- Joint arthritis
- Piriformis syndrome
- Greater trochanteric bursitis
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
- Hamstring strain
- Ischial tuberosity bursitis
- Hip joint arthritis
- Osteonecrosis of the femoral head
- Symphysis pubis pain
- Patellar tendinitis/tendinosis
- Osgood-Schlatter’s disease
- Quadriceps strain or partial tear
- Degenerative arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chondromalacia patella
- Calf pain
Ankle & Foot
- Chronic ligament strains
- Chronic Achilles tendinosis
- A chronic partial tendon tear
- Plantar fascitis
Erectile Dysfunction & Peyronie’s disease
Are there any special instructions?
One week before the procedure and through the course of the therapy, you are required to steer clear of non- steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs).
Initial side effects may include soreness and discomfort in the area of injury. For most patients, some extra-strength Tylenol eases the pain. You could also apply ice and heat to the treated area if needed.
For a week after the procedure, patients are required to go through their home or physical therapy program, while avoiding intense physical activity.
How soon can I go back to regular physical activities?
PRP treatments help in the process of regeneration of tendons and ligaments but are not considered a quick fix and require time and rehabilitation. Through the process of your treatments, the Physician will be able to forecast when you will be able to continue your regular physical activities.
Does insurance pay for PRP?
Most insurance companies, excluding Medicare, offer partial reimbursement after pre-authorization if you have coverage that is out of network. The best choice would be to consult each individual company for each condition/treatment needed.While your insurance may not cover the cost of PRP, often the best choice is to invest in your general health. Even if you have to pay for it, PRP will give you the ability to return to your regular life and enjoy a pain-free life.