Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP is a new-age treatment where the patient’s blood is used to transfer the blood plasma and other growth-promoting proteins to other parts of the body.
It has been found quite useful in fighting disease or recovering from injury or surgery. In recent years, these injections have helped people who take a long time in recovering from surgeries.
In the procedure, approximately 30 ml of blood is taken from the patient. It is placed in a centrifuge and put in a spinner for five to ten minutes. It separates the platelet-rich plasma from the red blood cells.
An ultrasound test is scheduled to find out the level of damage that happened to the ligaments and tendons. Once the physician finds the best location, he injects the PRP to promote healing.
How does PRP help?
Platelets are responsible for clotting of blood so that bleeding can be stopped. When an injury happens, our immune mechanism gets active and sends platelets to the affected area so that the clotting process can be started.
The trigger is sent to the bone marrow to make more platelets so that the clotting gets faster. The cytokines and growth-factor proteins are secreted by the platelets which increase the production of collagen.
It simulates the forming of scabs.
Experts say that when these secretions are injected into injuries at five to ten times higher concentration that is usually there in the bloodstream, it speeds up the healing process.
Effectiveness and suitability of PRP
Before applying the therapy, doctors check the suitability and effectiveness of PRP treatment.
If a person has a severe traumatic injury or suffers from severe arthritis or damaged cartilage, then he is not suitable for PRP treatment. Such problems often need surgical treatment.
However, sports injuries are best treated by PRP treatment. It helps athletes return to the ground faster after an injury.
PRP is quite useful as compared to the OTC pain relievers or physiotherapy in case of moderate to high joint pain amongst adults of all ages.
What are the conditions when PRP is a suitable treatment then? Here are a few:
- Achilles tendonitis
- Jumper’s knee
- Pulled hamstrings
- Bursitis and so on
PRP is quite helpful in surgeries to boost up rapid recovery of the surgical site.
Is it painful?
Though the pain is not unbearable, doctors may administer local anesthetic to reduce the pain and discomfort.
There is a mild to moderate pain at the injection site for two to three weeks after the procedure. However, it is not a common complaint. Some people do not feel any discomfort at all.
The severity of the pain depends on many factors like sensitivity to pain, location of the injection site, the amount of inflammation at the injection site and the overall health of the patient.
How is it different from cortisone?
The PRP injection is different from cortisone treatment. The cortisone injection provides temporary relief from pain whereas the PRP injection promotes the healing process.
After a cortisone shot, a person may feel instant relief from pain whereas a PRP injection may take a few days to weeks to reduce the pain.
Cortisone is a temporary arrangement for pain relief until the surgery is planned. PRP is, on the other hand, a healing method that prevents further damage to joints and soft tissues.
After a successful implementation of PRP, there is no need for surgery.
Recovery time after PRP treatment
Like other treatment methods, PRP takes some time to show its effects. Usually, it takes time similar to minimally invasive surgery; each person’s body has a different healing rate.
The rest for one week is suggested often. After that, mild to moderate exercises with low-impact movements are recommended.
The majority of the patients return to a normal routine after six weeks.
Precautions and side-effects
Sometimes, people need a second injection (or up to four in some cases) to feel pain-free. Doctors suggest not to take anti-inflammatory medicines to avoid interference with PRP injection.
There are no side-effects as such. Sometimes, PRP can cause scar and fibrosis. A few patients also observe mild nausea or dizziness.
PRP is an excellent treatment choice in case the person has a tendon or joint pain for more than three months and has tried all other treatment methods but not benefited.