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Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy

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Over the last decade, platelet-rich plasma therapy has enjoyed the limelight multiple times. It has often made headlines and is popular among elite athletes to recover from sports injuries. With the advancement in research regarding the possible uses of this therapy, doctors have designed various modalities of treatment including PRP injections to promote soft tissue healing, decrease local inflammation and even reverse hair loss.

What Is PRP Therapy?

Doctors have been using PRP therapy since the 1980s. It has been used for healing strained muscles, injured tendons, and ligaments.  This treatment modality initially started in the profession soccer leagues of Europe and have been used extensively in both clinical and surgical applications.

PRP (platelet-rich plasma[1]) therapy involves three steps in which the patient’s blood is taken, processed, and then injected back into the target tissue. Because this system borrows the human body’s initial “EMT” type (“first responder”) response to injury, there are no known side effects other than local injection site pain and possible infection from the injection (although PRP is likely to decrease the local risk for infection).

According to a rough estimate, PRP injections typically cost anywhere between $500 to $2,000.

How Is It Done?

Platelets are a type of circulating cell in our blood serum that play several roles in the human body. These include aggregation to stop bleeding, the release of healing signals (cytokines) in the blood at the site of aggregation, and assisting in the body’s immune response. In short, they function in the body to ensure that a person does not bleed excessively when injured.

In the light of recent research, medical experts have theorized that injecting PRP in areas of tissue damage or inflammation can help wounds to heal. A blood sample is drawn from the patient into a special cell separator and spun in a centrifuge. This process allows other blood components (white blood cells and red blood cells) to separate from platelets.

PRP injections contain a high concentration of platelets, sometimes 5 to 10 times more than found in untreated blood. The body’s response to the healing factors is initially local “specialist” cell recruitment.  This recruitment peaks at 3 days and remains very high for the next 3 weeks before decreasing “down the curve.”  For this reason, injections are occasionally staged 3 weeks apart.

Step 1

Your blood is taken, usually from your arm, and put into a centrifuge to separate its components.

Step 2

After almost 10 minutes of centrifugation, your blood separates into in three layers:

  • red and white blood cells
  • platelet-rich plasma
  • platelet-poor plasma (high in cytokines)

Step 3

Afterward, in this clinic, the platelet-rich and platelet poor plasma is aspirated into a syringe and then injected back into the targeted tissue.

Why Use PRP Therapy?

PRP injections are used to treat tendonitis, torn tendons, muscle injuries, joint injuries, and arthritis-related pain. These injections are also being used for cosmetic procedures and to treat hair loss. For example, hair replacement experts are now using PRP injections to treat androgenic alopecia[2], commonly known as male or female pattern baldness. Moreover, some dermatologists are also providing PRP treatments for the face.

Benefits Of PRP Treatment

PRP therapy has been quite successful so far in treating various health complications. Here are some of its renowned benefits in healthcare procedures.

Heals Tissue Injuries

Platelet-rich plasma therapy may be used to promote tissue healing in plastic surgeries. Doctors first used it to help people recover from surgeries and wounds. Here are a few examples of tissues that PRP has been used on.

  • tendons
  • ligaments
  • muscles

Ligament sprains and tendon strains often take time to heal. That is why PRP can serve as an attractive option for athletes who have experienced injuries to this specific tissue group as the recovery can be accelerated.

Helps Reduce Inflammation

For many years, doctors have used PRP to control inflammation caused by joint diseases such as osteoarthritis. Inflammation can cause joints to swell, making them painful and stiff.

Other Possible Uses

A study published in 2015 in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine[3] suggested that men receiving PRP treatment grew more hair with a thicker shaft than men who did not. However, the data collected for research included 20 individuals only.

Another study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine[4] showed that PRP injections assisted in reducing knee osteoarthritis pain. However, it was also a small case study with a sample of only 78 participants.

Furthermore, a 2014 paper published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine[5] showed that three rounds of PRP injections decreased the symptoms of knee injury chronic patellar tendinopathy. Once again, the researchers collected data from only 28 athletes in the study.

Takeaway

All in all, it can take several weeks for PRP therapy to start working. Under certain conditions, particularly those affecting the skin or the hair, it may take up to six months to produce any noticeable effects. In some cases, including hair loss, repetitive procedures may be required to maintain the results.

If you are looking for an experienced doctor to consult with, consider reaching out to us at Pacifica Orthopedics. We have a team of highly skilled doctors that will design a personalized treatment plan for you.

 

[1] “Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections: Purpose & Effectiveness.” 13 Aug. 2019, https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/platelet-rich-plasma-injections. Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

[2] “Alopecia Areata & Hair Loss: Causes, Treatments, and Tips to Cope.” 10 Sep. 2020, https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/alopecia-areata. Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

[3] “The Effect of Platelet‐Rich Plasma in Hair Regrowth: A Randomized ….” 23 Sep. 2015, https://stemcellsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.5966/sctm.2015-0107. Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

[4] “Treatment With Platelet-Rich Plasma Is More Effective Than Placebo ….” https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0363546512471299. Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

[5] “Are Multiple Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections Useful … – SAGE Journals.” https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0363546513519964. Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

 


Pacifica Orthopedics in Huntington Beach, California offers unique and comprehensive medical care specializing in general orthopedics, spine, hand & foot surgery, arthroscopy, chiropractic, neurology, physical therapy, psychology, pain management, rehabilitation medicine, and sports medicine.


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