How is Platelet Rich Plasma Performed?

Sports injuries are one of the most common types of injuries reported. Whether amateur or professional, young or old, there is a high likelihood that most people will experience some type of injury in their lifetime while engaging in physical activity. Typical sports injuries include strained muscles, ripped ligaments, torn tendons, and skeletal fractures. Long-term injuries can sometimes result in chronic back pain and arthritis. Treatment for these types of injuries is complex since chronic pain and extended healing periods play a pivotal factor.
A relatively new treatment that can relieve pain, promote healing, and regenerate soft tissue within the body is called platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy. Platelet rich plasma, also known as autologous platelet gel, is an increased concentration of autologous platelets in a small amount of plasma achieved by centrifugation. Platelets contain hundreds of proteins that are called growth factors (GF), which also play an essential role in hemostasis. Reports have shown that the growth factors found in platelet rich plasma can aid in tissue regrowth and the wound healing process.
While the clinical benefits of platelet rich plasma are still being studied, a substantial amount of evidence supports that the growth factors in platelet rich plasma have a positive effect on the treatment of torn connective tissues and bone fractures. Media sources are continuously giving reports of professional athletes who are choosing platelet rich plasma as an option when they are injured. A noted advantage of administering platelet rich plasma for treatment is that it provides a natural source of growth factors, so there is no risk for disease transmission.

Types of Platelet Rich Plasma Injection

To prepare platelet rich plasma, blood is drawn from the patient. The platelets are then separated and the concentration is increased by centrifugation. Once that process is finished, the platelet rich plasma is combined with the residual blood and injected with a needle into the area of the patient’s injury. The injection may also be a mixture of platelet rich plasma and a local anesthetic to assist with analgesia.
The procedure takes one to two hours, which includes preparation and recovery. This type of therapy provides pain relief without the risks of surgery and extended recovery.  Patients will feel some moderate discomfort after the platelet rich plasma treatment, which could last up to a few days. The physician may prescribe a small dosage of pain medication for severe cases and if pain after the treatment is persistent.
The most commonly reported side effect associated with platelet rich plasma treatment is tenderness in the area of the body where the injection was administered. Patients are advised to minimize activity for 24 hours after the treatment, but most patients have been able to continue with their daily activities immediately after the injection. It may take several weeks for the patient to notice the full effect of the treatment. During that time, it is important for the patient to follow their physical therapy regimen. If the patient does not feel the injection was effective, it may be recommended for them to receive additional platelet rich plasma treatments.  

Conditions Related To Platelet Rich Plasma Injection

According to conducted research, studies indicate that platelet rich plasma can most benefit patients with tendon injuries, ligament injuries, torn muscles, knee arthritis, back pain, fractures, arthritis, and Achilles tendon tears.
Platelet rich plasma has also been found effective for patients who have recently undergone surgery for an injury. The platelet rich plasma has been shown to assist with the healing process after the surgery, resulting in quicker recovery.
Candidates who receive platelet rich plasma may experience decreased pain, expedited recovery, and an increase of mobility in the injured area. Since the treatment is administered with the patient’s own blood, there is a low risk of infection, contamination, or side effects.

Conclusion

Although a relatively new treatment, platelet rich plasma has been found to be an effective treatment option for injuries due to sports and physical activity.  As more clinical studies are reviewed, reports show that the growth factors in platelets promote healing and assist in re-generating soft tissue. Platelet rich plasma being a natural source from the patient decreases the likelihood of risk and infection. This type of procedure is becoming frequently recommended since it is a minimally invasive type of treatment that does not require surgery or anesthesia.

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