The Benefits of Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy: Resolving Pain through Healing

running-573762_640.jpgTendons and ligament tissues act as connectors between the body’s bones and muscles. Injuries to these areas can be excruciating and take a long time to heal. While medications, physical therapy, and surgery go a long way towards healing an injury, the process is nonetheless painful and time-consuming.

A new procedure known as platelet rich plasma therapy offers a quick and effective treatment for tendon and ligament-type injures, reducing pain while speeding up the overall healing process.

WHAT ARE PLATELETS?

Human blood contains several types of cells, one of which is platelets. While commonly known for their clotting or coagulating properties, platelets also perform a myriad of functions that work to promote cell tissue growth and healing.

Platelets act as a specialized type of blood cell that exists alongside red cells, white cells and plasma. Blood composition equals:

  • 1% white blood cells
  • 6% platelets
  • 93% red blood cells

Platelets alone contain a storehouse of proteins, also known as growth factor agents, all of which play an active role in cell growth, cell repair, pain relief, and healing. According to the University of Delaware, growth factor agents present in platelet cells include:

  • Transforming growth factor or TGF-b
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF
  • Platelet derived growth factor or PDGF
  • Epidermal growth factor or EGF
  • Insulin-like growth factor 1
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF
  • Fibroblastic growth factor or FGF

In addition, platelets also house fungicidal and antibacterial proteins, which help ward off infection.

PLATELET RICH PLASMA PREPARATIONS

As the name implies, platelet rich plasma or PRP contains a higher concentration of platelets than would normally appear in blood. Platelet rich plasma can contain anywhere from 5-10 times more platelets than usual depending on the type of treatment performed.

Platelet rich plasma preparations involve separating platelets from other blood cell types in a lab. Platelet cells then go through a process known as centrifugation, which increases their concentration. From there, concentrated platelets are recombined with the remaining blood.

PLATELET RICH PLASMA THERAPY PROCEDURES

Ligament and tendon injuries, in particular, produce a considerable degree of pain and tend to heal more slowly than other types of tissues in the body. In cases of severe injury, more conservative treatment approaches often prove to be ineffective in terms of restoring the area to its normal functioning capacity.

Platelet rich plasma therapy treatment uses the patient’s own blood for the procedure. After making the PRP preparation, the blood is injected into the injured area.

Depending on the severity of the injury, a person may only require one injection. Three to four weeks after the initial treatment, the doctor performs a follow up exam to gauge the healing process. In effect, platelet rich plasma therapy uses a person’s own growth factor agents to stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms, according to University of Wisconsin Medical School.

CONDITIONS TREATED WITH PLATELET RICH PLASMA THERAPY

Injuries commonly treated with platelet rich plasma therapy include:

  • Knee sprains
  • Achilles tendinosis
  • Knee and hip-related osteoarthritis conditions
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Tennis/golf elbow
  • Sports-related hernias
  • Shoulder pain
  • Ankle sprains

To date, platelet rich plasma therapy has seen an 80-85% success rate, producing permanent, positive results.