The use of Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections is becoming increasingly popular for treating everything from hair loss to sports injuries. The treatment accelerates recovery and healing in a specific area by using the patient’s own blood cells.
In this article, Dr. Javier Placer explains what a PRP procedure is, what the procedure involves, and the benefits.
What is the PRP Procedure?
Platelet-rich plasma is made up of two parts: plasma, or the liquid component of blood, and platelets, which are blood cells that help in healing throughout the body. Platelets are known for their clotting capacity, but they also contain growth factors that may induce tissue regeneration in the treated area.
To render platelet-rich plasma, clinicians take a sample of the patient’s blood and place it in a centrifuge machine. The centrifuge spins the blood sample really fast, separating the platelets from the other parts of the blood and concentrating them in the plasma.
After generating a platelet-rich plasma from a patient’s blood sample, the solution is injected into the intended site, such as an injured knee or a tendon. The goal is to boost the concentration of particular bio proteins or growth factors in a specific location to hasten the healing process. The clinician may utilize ultrasound to guide the injection in certain circumstances.
The precise mechanism behind PRP injections is not well understood. However, research shows that the higher concentration of growth factors in platelet-rich plasma may stimulate or speed up the healing process and even promote hair growth!
What can the PRP procedure be used to treat?
PRP injections treat various conditions, such as:
Chronic tendon injuries
Tennis elbow, or jumper’s knee, may take a long time to heal, so adding PRP injections to a rehabilitation program can assist in accelerating the healing process, reducing discomfort, and allowing for a quicker return to activities.
Clinicians initially employed PRP to speed up healing after jaw or plastic surgery. Post-surgical PRP injections are now utilized to assist in the healing of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which have notoriously long recovery periods after surgery on these tissues.
According to preliminary findings, PRP injections may help treat osteoarthritis pain and stiffness by lowering inflammation.
PRP injections may help treat male pattern baldness by reducing hair loss and stimulating new hair growth. PRP may also help stimulate hair growth following hair transplants.
Although PRP injections are sometimes used as an anti-aging therapy, there is little proof that PRP improves wrinkles and other signs of aging.
What is the PRP Therapy Procedure?
PRP therapy is a straightforward procedure that can be completed in under two hours. It does not require hospitalization and may be performed as an outpatient procedure.
For blood tests, the patient is usually told not to eat or drink for up to 12 hours before. PRP therapy, on the other hand, doesn’t require any preparations. The patient is merely advised to hydrate sufficiently in advance since higher levels of water in the body make blood drawing simpler for the doctor.
If you use corticosteroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), you’ll need to stop taking them up to a week before the PRP procedure. These drugs can impede PRP treatment, which may negate any results.
PRP treatment involves the following steps:
Step 1: The patient’s blood is taken
The procedure requires less than two ounces (between 15 and 50 milliliters). A collecting needle is placed into a vein in the arm, and the blood is gathered in a tiny vial, similar to providing blood for a blood test.
Step 2: Centrifuge the blood
The blood is centrifuged. This activity physically separates red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells (leukocytes), platelets (thrombocytes), and plasma from the blood (liquid).
Step 3: Separate and collect the platelets
Regular blood has roughly 200,000 platelets per milliliter, but platelet-rich plasma has up to five times that many. Three to seven milliliters of platelet-rich plasma will be collected in a syringe and immediately delivered.
Step 4: The PRP is injected into the targeted location
The finished platelet-rich plasma syringe will contain around 1-2 tablespoons of fluid. Based on the type of injury being treated, the PRP will be directed into the right area using an ultrasonic probe.
The injury site must first be cleaned with alcohol, iodine, or Betadine to guarantee that the skin is clear of any infection-causing bacteria before injecting platelet-rich plasma.
Since the procedure may take some time, a local anesthetic will be administered to ensure the patient’s comfort. Traditionally, an anesthetic is administered into the afflicted area and allowed approximately fifteen minutes to take effect.
Alternatively, ultrasonic probes may establish a “nerve block” to achieve the same result without needing an extra injection. The ultrasonic nerve block may also be required due to the patient’s physical state, the location and type of the injury, or personal choice.
To guarantee that the PRP is injected precisely, ultrasonography will be used to view the injury internally and guide the doctor’s hand. A small amount of ultrasound gel will be placed on the skin over the affected region, followed by the application of a small ultrasound probe, or wand, to the area. The final image will be shown on a screen.
If the injured body part has scar tissue, it must be pierced many times to establish pathways for the PRP to infiltrate. This is known as PNT or percutaneous tenotomy. Furthermore, this approach may break up bone spurs and calcified bits inside a tendon.
Platelet-rich plasma is then injected into the injured area. Once completed, the needle puncture will only need some blotting and bandaging.
What Post-Operative Care is Required for PRP Therapy?
After the treatment, patients should be able to resume regular daily activities almost immediately. Since the PRP injection fills the injury site with fluid, it is natural to view the region as swollen and sensitive, as if you have had a sprain and the swelling that comes with it. Most people may alleviate their pain with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Remember that NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines) such as naproxen and ibuprofen should not be used to alleviate pain following PRP treatment since they will severely interfere with the therapy. A few patients may develop substantial post-procedural discomfort, probably due to the increased inflammatory response promoted by PRP treatment.
Above all, the patient must be…patient! PRP will not deliver instant pain relief, and repairing healthy tissue using PRP may take a couple of weeks. However, this boost of platelet-rich plasma will allow the healing process to occur much faster than it would typically take.
Platelet-rich Plasma Injections Available in Davenport, Clermont and Orlando, FL
If you have any further questions regarding PRP injections, please get in touch with us at the Florida Spine and Pain Institute. Dr. Javier Placer, a pain management and sports medicine expert, can effectively treat your injury together with any other types of pain you may have been experiencing.
Schedule an online appointment with us today if you want to get back to living a healthy, pain-free life.