Using Your Body’s Own Platelets to Heal Injury

Whether you are a weekend warrior or a highly competitive athlete, it is almost a foregone conclusion that you may be sidelined by an injury at some point. While it may be possible to recover from a minor injury within a few days or weeks, other injuries are more severe.

Faced with treatments that range from surgery to physical therapy, athletes may begin to feel that they will never again be at the top of their game.

Fortunately, medical science is becoming more advanced all the time. This means that healing techniques that seem like they come straight out of the space age are available today. One of these techniques is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy.

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)

When your healthcare practitioner recommends Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy, they are really suggesting that you allow your body’s own natural processes to speed your healing. These processes are given a boost with cutting-edge scientific knowledge.

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy, which often is referred to as PRP, is a minimally invasive procedure. It requires only outpatient visits, and many people are able to return to their daily activities shortly after receiving the therapy.

Even better, many athletes discover that they experience far less pain and discomfort once the therapy begins. This relief begins within a few days of the treatment. Accordingly, it may be possible to return to training sooner than you imagined possible.

What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma?

PRP is a natural substance that is derived from the plasma that is a major component of the patient’s own blood. Plasma contains platelets, which are recognized for their blood-clotting characteristics. However, platelets have a larger role to play.

This is because platelets are loaded with growth factors and enzymes, all of which support a quick, efficient, and thorough healing process. Because some parts of the body, such as tendons, naturally get little blood flow, injecting plasma with a rich concentration of such platelets into the injured tendon significantly speeds up the healing process.

This treatment also may be effective for the treatment of ligaments, cartilage, or muscles. An injection of PRP essentially restarts the inflammatory response that is a vital part of the healing process.

Because PRP therapy initially encourages inflammation, many patients experience an increase in their injury symptoms immediately following treatment. This may mean that some activities will be proscribed for a short time. Once this inflammation recedes, most patients experience a significant reduction in pain and discomfort.

How Is PRP Made?

PRP is created from the patient’s own blood. The sample is taken and then placed into a centrifuge machine. The centrifuge spins at a high speed, effectively separating the various components in the blood. This means that the platelets become extremely concentrated. Normally, platelet counts rise by between five and 10 times the naturally occurring counts. When this concentrated PRP is injected into the patient in a strategic location, the healing results can be amazing.

How Does PRP Work?

The platelets in your blood are cells shaped like disks. Inside each disk are things like cytokines, proteins, and growth factors. All of these substances contribute to the healing of soft tissues and bones.

Growth factors help with cell repair by improving growth, decreasing inflammation, and sending signals to the immune system. Cytokines support nearly all repairs that occur naturally within the human body. They help cells to communicate while also accelerating the healing of tissue and wounds. Platelets also attract stem cells to injured soft tissues. With stem cells converging on an injured body part, a new fibrin layer is facilitated, new tissue grows and the healing process truly begins.

Accordingly, PRP works by stimulating regeneration and repair to injured areas.

What Conditions Can PRP Treatment Be Applied To?

A wide range of sports injuries may be treated with PRP. These include injuries to ligaments, tendons, and joints. After an acute injury, PRP may be used to deal with joint pain that results from inflammation. Other common conditions that are treated with PRP may include:

  • Partial tendon tears
  • Tennis elbow
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Jumper’s knee
  • Tendonitis
  • Muscle injuries
  • Ligament injuries
  • Chronic degenerative joint disease
  • Arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis

Whether the injury is the result of overuse or an acute incident, PRP therapy may prove valuable to the athlete’s ability to make a complete recovery.

Who is the Right Candidate for PRP Treatment?

Regenerative medicine may be a viable option for almost any athlete who has suffered an acute injury or who experiences pain from chronic overuse. The first step toward determining whether or not this treatment is appropriate for you is to schedule a visit to the clinic.

The doctor performs a comprehensive exam and collects the medical history of the patient. This includes detailing any treatment methods that have already been tried on the injury. Occasionally, the doctor will use an ultrasound to discover the true breadth and nature of the injury to aid with the diagnosis.

In general, patients who have had cancer and have not been in remission for a minimum of five years are not considered good candidates for PRP. Patients on high doses of Coumadin, those with a current infection or who have blood-borne diseases similarly may not be considered for PRP therapy. This is why practitioners who administer PRP are careful about collecting a full medical history of prospective recipients.

If none of these conditions apply to you, then you may be an excellent candidate for PRP.

Learn More About PRP

Contact Delaware Integrative Healthcare if you are curious about PRP and think that it might be a viable option to treat your sports injury. With PRP, physical therapy, and proper care, you may be able to get back in the game sooner than you thought possible.