Platelet-rich plasma therapy takes advantage of the substances already found in the body to heal and regenerate itself. This is also known as PRP therapy. It can be achieved through drawing one’s blood and placing it in a centrifuge. Then, the centrifuge concentrates the platelets and extracts certain components for healing. These components can consist of platelet-derived growth factor, insulin-like growth factors 1 and 2, fibroblast growth factor, transforming growth factor beta, vascular endothelial growth factor, epidermal growth factor, Interleukin 8, connective tissue growth factor, and keratinocyte growth factor. PRP therapy is an FDA approved treatment method that safely helps rejuvenate and heal one’s body. This method is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal conditions like torn tendons, muscle injuries, joint injuries and arthritis.
Blood is drawn from the patient and placed in a centrifuge. After centrifuging the blood, the concentrated platelets are injected into the damaged or ill tissue in the body. This releases growth factors in the body which produce increased amounts of reparative cells in the body.
While PRP is not a standard practice for treating arthritis, more and more people are turning to PRP to treat orthopedic conditions. Normal blood has around 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter. After the platelets have been concentrated in platelet rich plasma they have around 2.5 to 9 times that amount. This can vary depending on a person’s blood composition, how much blood was drawn, the centrifugal process and any preparation by the clinic.
Platelet-rich plasma is injected into the joint in order to reduce pain, improve joint function and repair damage to the cartilage. An ultrasound device can be used to ensure precision of the injection into the joint site. This procedure is often outpatient including one or a series of injections. Platelet-rich plasma typically works better when coupled with a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. This could include heat/cold therapy, physical therapy, or use of compression devices.
PRP therapy is autologous, meaning it is natural and comes from the body so there is lower risk of rejection. Because there is no cure for osteoarthritis and the low risk associated with PRP, some doctors believe it is worth trying if other treatments have been unsuccessful. Studies have shown that PRP therapy aids in cell regeneration but scientists are still unsure of how and why this occurs.
Talk To Your Doctor
When looking for a doctor to perform this type of therapy, the doctor should explain the following:
Patients whose arthritis hinders their daily activities or have been unsuccessful with other forms of therapy such as physical therapy, steroid injections or medications are good candidates for trying platelet rich plasma therapy. PRP therapy is not commonly recommended for advanced cases of osteoarthritis.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a safe and effective treatment option for patients trying to alleviate the pain from arthritis. Talk with your doctor about what PRP therapy would look like, how the process works at their office and planning a comprehensive rehabilitation plan.