The medical world experiences dynamic changes day by day. However, one new treatment is standing out among the rest concerning its ability to reduce pain and inflammation. This treatment is platelet-rich plasma injections, and in a series of 132 studies, over 60% found it to be favorable to all others.

Our Sports Medicine and Joint Replacement Specialists team is proud to offer patients platelet-rich plasma therapy as a treatment option. Surgical intervention may be the only option for some patients, but our team is dedicated to providing as many non-invasive alternatives as possible.

However, despite this treatment's growing popularity, many have a slim understanding of this process. Some may have never even heard of PRP injections! That's why, in this article, we'll break down what this exciting treatment is, as well as what potential patients can expect before and after receiving it.

Platelet-Rich Plasma Explained

Before describing the treatment, here is an understanding of what platelet-rich plasma actually is. Plasma is the liquid component of blood, responsible for transporting red blood cells, white blood cells, and something called platelets. Platelets are small, disc-shaped cell fragments that play a crucial role in your body's healing process.

Our bodies naturally produce PRP to help our wounds heal faster by stimulating tissue regeneration and rebuilding damaged tissues. Platelets are renowned not just for their role in blood clotting, but also because they are packed with growth factors that are key in initiating cell division and promoting the repair and renewal of tissues in the area where they are applied. Platelet-rich plasma is essentially blood that has a higher-than-usual concentration of platelets.

The process of producing platelet-rich plasma involves healthcare professionals drawing a sample of the patient's blood and processing it in a centrifuge. This machine spins the blood at high speeds, effectively separating the platelets from other blood elements, thereby enriching the plasma portion with a concentrated number of platelets.

What Are PRP Injections?

In simple terms, PRP injections involve injecting a concentration of platelet-rich plasma directly into the site of an injury or pain. This treatment is used to promote healing and reduce inflammation in damaged tissues by introducing concentrated platelets into the injury site.

The injection site itself is located through a short evaluation process. Some healthcare professionals may find it beneficial to use the assistance of ultrasound guidance to find the perfect site for your PRP injection.

How Do PRP Injections Work?

The exact reason as to why PRP injections work so well is unknown. However, research indicates that the elevated levels of growth factors found in platelet-rich plasma can potentially accelerate the healing process. This enhancement can lead to quicker recovery times for injuries, reduction in pain, and may even promote hair growth.

The Injuries That PRP Treatments Can Help With

While we've talked about the power that a PRP injection can have to help treat injuries, it's time we discussed what those specific injuries are.

Tendon Injuries

  • Reducing Inflammation and Pain: PRP injections can be effective in treating tendonitis by reducing inflammation and alleviating pain. It is particularly beneficial for chronic tendon injuries, such as tennis elbow or jumper's knee, where the concentrated growth factors in PRP can stimulate a more robust healing response.
  • Enhancing Tendon Repair: Platelet-rich plasma treatments may enhance the natural healing process of damaged tendons, potentially leading to a quicker and more complete recovery.

Ligament Injuries

  • Accelerating Healing Process: PRP treatment can significantly speed up the recovery process for ligament issues, such as an¬†interspinous ligament injury, commonly encountered in sports and physical activities.
  • Improving Ligament Strength: By delivering concentrated growth factors to the injury site, PRP injections may help in fortifying the ligament, potentially decreasing the risk of future injuries and aiding in the development of stronger ligament tissue.

Muscle Injuries

  • Enhancing Repair: Muscle injuries, ranging from mild strains to more severe tears, can benefit from the accelerated healing provided by PRP injections. This can lead to quicker restoration of the function and strength of the muscles.
  • Reducing Pain and Swelling: PRP can also play a crucial role in minimizing the discomfort and swelling often associated with muscle injuries, aiding patients in a faster return to their daily activities.

Joint Injuries

  • Improving Joint Function: PRP can be beneficial in treating various joint injuries, including those involving the knees, shoulders, and hips. It helps in reducing inflammation and pain, leading to improved joint function.
  • Enhancing Cartilage Repair: PRP treatment may aid in the healing of damaged cartilage, which is a common issue in many joint injuries, thereby improving mobility and reducing discomfort.

Stress Fractures

  • Accelerating Bone Healing: While primarily known for soft tissue healing, PRP injections can also play a role in the recovery process of stress fractures, potentially accelerating bone healing and reducing recovery time.
  • Reducing Pain Associated with Fractures: PRP can help in managing the pain often associated with stress fractures, making the healing process more comfortable for the patient.

Overuse Injuries

  • Alleviating Symptoms of Overuse: PRP therapy is effective in treating overuse injuries, which are common in athletes. These include conditions like shin splints or golfer's elbow.
  • Promoting Tissue Healing: The concentrated growth factors in PRP can stimulate the healing of tissues damaged due to repetitive stress, aiding in a quicker return to sports activities. (This is particularly beneficial when used to treat professional athletes.)

Considerations For PRP Treatment

As with any medical procedure, there are a few things to keep in mind before opting for PRP treatment.

  • Not a Cure-All Solution: While platelet-rich plasma can be beneficial in treating many injuries, it is not a cure-all solution. It works by promoting the body's natural healing process and may not work for everyone.
  • Potential Side Effects: As with any injection, there is a risk of side effects such as infection, bleeding, or nerve injury. It's essential to discuss any potential risks with your healthcare provider before undergoing the procedure.
  • Multiple Sessions May Be Required: For some injuries, multiple PRP injections may be necessary for optimal results. Your healthcare provider will determine the number of sessions needed based on your case.

The PRP Injection Recovery Process

Platelet-rich plasma injections are minimally invasive and relatively safe, but it is essential to keep in mind that the recovery process can vary from person to person. In most cases, patients experience mild discomfort or pain at the injection site for a few days following the procedure. Some may also notice slight bruising or swelling at the site.

It is recommended to avoid strenuous activities for the first week after receiving a PRP injection to allow the healing process to take place. Patients may also be advised to avoid anti-inflammatory medications, as they can interfere with the natural healing response stimulated by platelet-rich plasma.

Take Back Control Of Your Musculoskeletal Pain

Chronic pain can feel debilitating, and at times, it may seem as though you have no options other than invasive surgery. That's why PRP injections are such a valuable procedure for patients and specialists alike- they allow you to take back control of your musculoskeletal pain and return to the activities you love without facing high risks.

With advances in medical technology, platelet-rich plasma therapy continues to evolve, providing patients with a safe and effective option for treating injuries and promoting tissue healing.

If you're interested in this treatment, or any other non-invasive options, contact SMJRS today to determine if PRP treatment is right for you. Your pain won't wait- so you shouldn't either! Schedule an appointment online with us today and get back to the things you love!