Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy makes the news through its use by athletes and celebrities, for injury recovery and cosmetic treatments, and this may tend to confuse some people about the purpose and benefits of this procedure. PRP injections have been used surgically for over 30 years, and while there’s not yet a large body of clinical research behind it, PRP is low-risk, supporting its use in a wide range of medical treatment as a potential healing accelerator.
Joint pain is one very promising application of PRP injections, and unlike some PRP uses, there’s a growing body of data to support its use as a treatment for osteoarthritis, a leading cause of joint degeneration and pain.
Since PRP uses a patient’s own blood, there are no biocompatibility or rejection issues. There’s little risk of complications with PRP therapy, so it’s a regenerative medicine treatment with a bright future.
The role of platelets
Many people know of blood platelets for their role in clotting blood over cuts and scrapes, the earliest stages of the body’s healing mechanisms when bleeding is involved. While this is an important function of platelets, it’s not their only role. Platelets contain human growth factors, and researchers believe that platelets deliver support materials to the location of an injury, providing a boost to the healing function.
Harvesting and concentrating plasma to a level 5-10 times higher than typically found in your blood creates an injectable serum that can supercharge your body’s healing efforts.
The PRP process starts with a small sample of your blood. That sample is centrifuged to isolate and concentrate platelets. This prepared plasma may be injected as is using topical anesthetics, or a local anesthetic may be added to the plasma. For joint pain, PRP is typically injected into the joint capsule.
There’s little chance of side effects, since the injectable is derived from your own blood. There may be irritation at the injection site, consistent with any needle-based treatment, such as a vaccination or allergy shot.
The PRP contribution
Painful joints are often inflamed, part of the body’s response to injury and a sign that healing activities are in progress. In the case of a degenerative condition, such as osteoarthritis, the rate of degeneration proceeds faster than the rate of repair.
PRP is thought to benefit healing by providing a concentration of human growth factors to speed your body’s rate of repairing itself, ideally a rate that’s faster than the joint’s decline. PRP may be combined with other therapies, such as physiotherapy and stretching exercises. Corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory drugs are usually discontinued while PRP therapy is underway.
Not every patient responds to PRP therapy, perhaps due to the comparative rates of degeneration and healing, but clinical research for PRP treatment of osteoarthritis shows promise. Clinical data on its use on arthritic knees is growing.
Other uses of PRP
Given its suspected role as a healing accelerator, PRP is used by some athletes to boost their recovery after strenuous exertions. Part of the Vampire Facial® procedure when combined with microneedling, PRP injections promote skin revitalization. Some clinics are experimenting with PRP as an aid in treating hair loss.
Contact Pure Skin Aesthetic & Laser Center if you’re suffering from chronic joint pain. We can examine and assess your condition and recommend whether PRP injections hold promise for you. Call or click today.