Platelet-rich plasma injections refer to a sample of serum (blood) plasma that has four times the normal amount of platelets. This therapy enhances the body’s natural ability to heal itself. It is also used to improve healing and shorten recovery time for acute and chronic soft tissue injuries.
Platelets are part of the blood that circulates around the body to help with blood clotting after a cut, broken bone, internal bleeding, or any injury. Containing clotting factors, the platelets release growth factors that start the healing sequence.
With a concentrated amount of platelets, larger quantities of these growth factors get released to stimulate a natural healing response. Plasma is the clear part of the blood in which all the other blood particles such as platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells travel.
The main purpose of platelet-rich plasma injection is to foster healing where it has not occurred or to speed up healing as in the case of acute injury. Platelets release bioactive proteins that enhance tissue regeneration and healing. For example, studies show that after using platelet-rich plasma injections PRP for tendon problems, new tendon cells start to develop in the treated area. Growth factors that help build new blood supply to the area are also increased in number.
This healing response helps restore strength faster than usual. Platelet-rich plasma injection therapy takes place in any area where a rapid healing response is desired. One great benefit of PRP injection is the lack of side effects that occurs with steroid injections or long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – the number one cause of liver and kidney failure in the United States.
Most PRP injections can be done on an outpatient basis, usually in the office setting. Therapies with PRP are broken down into two steps: preparing the platelet-rich plasma for injections, and then injections into the affected area.
First, blood drawn from one’s arm is used to create the injected fluid then placed in a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins the blood fast enough to separate it into layers based on weight. Heavier parts stay on the bottom. Platelets and white blood cells spin out above the red blood layer.
Lighter particles make up the top layer in the test tube. Once blood is drawn, the sample is prepared right away and one can have the injection after 20 minutes.
Once the PRP has been prepared, it is injected into the damaged area. One is usually not asleep or anaesthetized during this process. A numbing agent like Novocain (e.g., lidocaine, Marcaine) is used topically.
Through the use of regenerative medicine techniques, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and stem cell therapy– regenerative techniques can be tailored to meet each patient’s needs wherever they are experiencing pain.