Do your joints ache? Did you hurt yourself playing sports? The discomfort you experience may stem from a new or old injury that damaged a joint’s surrounding tendons or ligaments, sprained or strained some muscles, or you may have arthritis. In any case, you may experience relief from a PRP injection. If you’ve tried pain relievers and physical therapy and you’re still in pain, it’s time to consider PRP.
Surgeons have relied on PRP to aid in wound healing for a number of years. Although more research is needed to determine exactly how the treatment works, physicians are now using PRP to help provide pain relief for both sports injuries and arthritic joints. Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal have used PRP therapy for sprains and tendon injuries for more than two decades.
PRP is good news for baby boomers who are more active in their later years than any previous generation. As you age, you may develop arthritis from the wear-and-tear on your joints. You’re also more likely to develop soft tissue injuries in muscles, ligaments, and tendons because your cartilage has lost part of its elasticity and tears more easily. PRP brings healing nutrients to damaged cartilage.
Your board-certified physician at Alpha Orthopedics & Sports Medicine is trained in the latest advances in treating musculoskeletal injuries and conditions such as osteoarthritis. PRP is a major step forward in being able to provide faster healing for patients’ soft tissue injuries.
Your blood is composed of liquids and solids. Some of the solids are platelets, which are small blood cells made from your bone marrow that help your blood clot. The platelets also contain more than 30 elements called growth factors that help your body heal. These elements stimulate cell growth and encourage the growth of blood vessels after an injury.
Your blood also contains liquid plasma, which is a mix of water, salt, and proteins, where the platelets are distributed. The PRP procedure simply groups many of the platelets close together so they’re more available to you for healing.
A technician draws a blood sample which is then spun in a machine called a centrifuge, and the platelets are separated from the plasma. Your physician then injects the PRP near the source of your pain. The PRP rushes to your injured tissue, and the growth factors start to work to reduce your inflammation and lower your pain level.
Physicians are using PRP for knee arthritis, tissue injuries to the shoulder, and tendon injuries such as tennis elbow and Achilles tendon. Most studies have been small or limited, and more research is therefore needed to determine the effects of PRP on specific areas of the body. That said, patients in one small study had less pain after PRP treatment for knee pain than they did the year before, and MRIs indicated that arthritis hadn’t progressed in most of those patients. Researchers think this may be important, because if you have arthritis in your joints, about five percent of the cartilage may disappear each year.
PRP has many advantages as a treatment for joint and soft tissue pain.
A PRP treatment is an in-office procedure. Per our Axiom training, it is recommended that patients rest and not resume normal activities for 48 hours.
You may be able to lessen the dose of pain medication or eliminate it entirely as you begin to experience the effects of PRP. That’s important because every medication has side effects, and most pain medications shouldn’t be taken for extended periods of time; some of them can cause organ damage.
Your physician at Alpha Orthopedics & Sports Medicine lets you know whether PRP is an appropriate treatment for you once he reviews your medical history, examines the injury, conducts tests, and diagnoses your condition. If you are a candidate, he provides you with pre- and post-injection instructions prior to your appointment.
If other treatments haven’t worked to resolve your pain, call Alpha Orthopedics & Sports Medicine or request an appointment through our online portal to see if PRP therapy is right for you. You’re in expert hands.