After being centrifuged, the activated platelets from the patient’s blood are injected into the damaged or abnormal tissue, stimulating the release of growth factors that increase the number of cells responsible for repairing the area. Also, these growth factors stimulate blood flow to the area and cause cartilage to become more firm. Depending on the situation, your physician may or may not use ultrasound imaging to guide the injection.
PRP is being used with regularity at the highest levels of sports and in known athletes in the world today. The specific conditions in which PRP therapy can be beneficial include:
After the injection, you can feel a notable decrease in pain intensity. As the functional mobility and ability of the treated area is restored, you can notice gradual improvement after 2 to 6 weeks. In some studies, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results have shown definitive tissue repair after PRP therapy.
Minimal risk is associated with PRP therapy. This is because the treatment makes use of the patient’s own blood, and it is injected back into the body after it is centrifuged. There is a very low chance that the body will reject its own component. However, infection can occur if the preparation of the platelets and the injection process are not sterile. Also, the success of PRP injections are dependent upon the skills of the physician and how advanced the medical facility is.
In another recent clinical trial involving 230 patients with chronic lateral epicondylar tendinopathy (tennis elbow), the PRP-treated patients reported an improvement of 55.1% in their pain scores after 24 weeks of treatment. Also, there were no signs of complications related to the treatment.
Finally, to assess the safety and symptomatic changes of platelet-rich plasma (PRP), a group of researchers performed joint injections of PRP in patients with osteoarthritis of the hip. Surprisingly, patients who received PRP injections verbalized an improvement in pain intensity and hip function.
This promising adjunctive form of therapy might be the answer to finally curing chronic and debilitating injuries previously deemed untreatable, and serve as a treatment alternative to more invasive surgeries.