July 14, 2020

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy: How it Works

Platelet-rich plasma therapy harnesses the body’s ability to heal itself. In recent years, platelet-rich therapy has been used to channel the body’s natural capabilities to regrow tissue and heal itself. 

What is Platelet-Rich Plasma?

The liquid part of blood is called plasma, which is composed of water and proteins. It provides a way for red blood cells, white cells, and platelets to move smoothly and swiftly through the body. 

Platelets – a type of blood cell – are solely responsible for blood clots and healing functions. Platelets contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors. These growth factors trigger cell growth, quick healing, and encourages tissue regeneration in the affected area. 

Platelet-rich plasma is plasma that has a higher concentration of platelets than typical blood. This increases the concentration of growth factor – in fact, 5 to10 times greater than usual. 

How does PRP Therapy Work?

Studies show that by increasing the concentration of growth factors in PRP, the body can speed up the healing process. By injecting specific areas of inflammation or damaged tissue with high concentrations of platelets, wounds are encouraged to heal quickly. 

PRP therapy can be performed in two ways: 

  • Platelet-rich plasma is injected into the affected area.  If a patient suffers a heel injury, the heel cord oftentimes becomes inflamed, swollen, and painful. PRP, combined with a local anesthetic, can be directed into the inflamed tissue. The injection site may be tender and sore in the week after receiving the injection. It can take several weeks before the patient feels the full benefit of the treatment. 
  • Platelet-rich plasma is used to increase healing after surgery for some injuries. Torn tendons can be repaired with the use of PRP during surgery. The PRP is used in a special way that allows it to be woven into torn tissues. 

Blood samples are drawn from the person being treated and placed into a centrifuge, separating platelets from the other components in blood. This concentration of platelets is injected into the area being treated. 

How Can Platelet-Rich Plasma Be Used?

The effectiveness of PRP therapy varies, because there are so many factors that determine the outcome. Influential factors include: 

  • The area of treatment
  • The overall health of the patient
  • Whether the affected area is acute or chronic

Areas where PRP therapy is proven to be effective are: 

  • Acute Ligament and Muscle Injuries: PRP therapy can treat acute sports injuries, such as ligament and muscle injuries. 
  • Hair Growth: Injecting PRP into the scalp helps reduce inflammation that leads to hair loss. A 2015 study found that men receiving PRP treatment grew more hair – in both volume and density – over men who did not. 
  • Inflammation reduction: PRP is used to reduce inflammation caused by osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis causes joints to become stiff and painful. 
  • Fractures: PRP injections can be used in some cases to aid the healing of fractures and broken bones. 

What To Expect

Preparing for PRP therapy

Because PRP therapy involves drawing blood, the patient needs to eat before the procedure to avoid dizziness and lightheadedness. Patients should tell their doctor about any medications or prescriptions they use on a regular basis. It’s important to follow their doctor’s instructions when it comes to medication that are blood thinners, 

The Procedure

The doctor begins by drawing blood from the patient, and then uses a centrifuge to separate the PRP from the rest of the blood cells. The doctor will then numb the area to be treated and carefully inject the PRP under the skin. The platelets break down and release growth factors, triggering the natural regrowth and tissue renewal. 

This procedure takes approximately 30 minutes. 

After Receiving PRP Therapy

The injection site may be sore for a few days following the procedure and there may be some bruising. If the patient suffers from severe pain after the treatment, they should contact their doctor immediately. PRP therapy is effective for at least 6 months, and can be repeated in some cases. 

Talk to your doctor today if you think PRP therapy may be a good fit for you. 

July 14, 2020


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