The whole scientific process behind platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is very interesting, considering all the ingredients come from within. You have platelets in your body called thrombocytes. These types of tiny cells are located within your bloodstream and are responsible for helping the body form clots to stop you from excessively bleeding. If one of your blood vessels gets damaged, it sends out signals that are picked up by your platelets. The platelets then rush to the site of the damage and form a plug, or blood clot, to repair the damage.
Along with platelets in your bloodstream, there are two other types of cells, white blood cells called leukocytes, and red blood cells called erythrocytes. Your white blood cells are there to help your immune system fight off infection, while the red blood cells within the bloodstream, transport essential oxygen, and nutrients throughout the body. As our bodies have this amazing ability to heal itself, scientists and researchers have considered your platelets to be powerful healers, and PRP therapy magnifies this power.
That’s because your platelets have what are known as growth factors, which initiate the healing process. If the body did not contain platelets, healing from injury would be a lot more difficult. In the perspective of orthopedic injuries and conditions, this means that your body would not be able to manage and control inflammation and create new healthy tissue in areas that have been diseased or damaged. In addition, without platelets, the body also wouldn’t be able to stimulate blood flow and enhance collagen production, which is very important for your body to be able to heal itself.
Our musculoskeletal system or anatomy is built with intricate parts, including 206 bones, and other important elements, such as joints, ligaments, nerves, cartilage, tendons, and other connective tissues that support and binds our organs together, and most importantly, allow the body to move and function properly.
The musculoskeletal system is susceptible to injury, and its tissues and parts are plagued by degeneration, due to overuse, wear and tear, aging, obesity, etc. These injuries are quite common and lead to physical disability and severe chronic pain. Millions of people are affected by musculoskeletal problems worldwide, and it can significantly impact one’s life. Common injuries that PRP therapy is used for include:
- Knee, shoulder, elbow injuries
- Severe hamstring pulls
- Damaged Achilles tendon
- Tears to the rotator cuff
Overview of the PRP Process
The first step of PRP therapy is to collect your blood, much like any other blood draw/test. A needle with a syringe collects your blood. After your blood is collected, your platelets will be separated into a concentrated form for injection via the centrifuge process. This is where your blood is spun in a device at high speeds, so the doctor can create an injection with a concentration of platelets, and ensure the liquid and solid parts of your blood are fully separated (blood cells and platelets).
The doctor will administer a local anesthetic into the target area to keep you numb and comfortable during the procedure. The injection is then administered directly into the site of injury and degeneration, providing a concentrated boost of healing growth factors. This way, there is no risk of contamination, infection, or mismatch, as the platelets come from your own blood.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is an outpatient procedure, so you won’t have to stay a night in the hospital or have someone else drive you home. You are asked to drink lots of fluids before the procedure to stay hydrated, which makes it easier for the doctor to draw your blood.
Your doctor may use ultrasound technology, called an ultrasound-guided injection to get a direct look inside your body to ensure the PRP injection makes it to the precise area in need of treatment.
To learn more about PRP therapy and if it might be right for you, call Total Orthopaedic Care at (954) 735-3535 to schedule an appointment, or use our secure online appointment request form.