Nearly 100 million office visits each year to medical clinic settings are due to musculoskeletal injuries. Of the treatments, platelet rich plasma therapy is a new approach in treating these kinds of injuries and there is a lot of hype about it. The Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy is emerging as the treatment choice for muscle, tendon, and bone injuries. It seems to boost the healing process thus reducing pain and improving function.
How does PRP work?
A component of the blood called platelets, tiny cell fragments responsible for the development of blood clots, works to perform an important role in tissue repair. Clotting is the first step in the healing process. When this occurs, the platelets release what is known as factors that help with the clot formation and many growth factors. These growth factors increase the production of several types of stem cells. Essentially, the healing process goes through phases: inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling.
Injecting platelets into the area of the injury is thought to start and speed up the healing cascade, causing the body’s healing mechanism to regenerate new tissue. The PRP is prepared by using a centrifuge to spin out the blood into its separate parts. The PRP is a higher concentration of platelets than blood with this process.
What studies have found
In a study of a small group of patients with chronic lateral epicondylitis, they were given either autologous whole blood or PRP preparation. The PRP therapy had significant results when compared to whole blood six weeks into the study. This type of therapy even has proven exceptional results when compared to hyaluronic or corticosteroid therapy.
Another study has shown the PRP-treated group showed significant improvement in their knee osteoarthritis than compared to the group receiving hyaluronic acid therapy after three months of treatment. In a similar study, corticosteroid injections were given to one group with lateral epicondylitis while a PRP preparation was given to another group with the same ailment. The treatment success was found to be at a 25% reduction in pain within the year following the study. The study notes that 73% PRP group was treated successfully compared to the 49% in the group who received corticosteroid injections. What is significant in this study is that the corticosteroid group showed improvement than decline after the treatment, however, the PRP group continues to experience improvement.
Who is a good candidate?
Anyone who has an isolate injury and the risk of having cortisone therapy or no treatment outweighs any risks that PRP therapy poses. A person that has chronic lateral epicondylitis seems to respond best to PRP therapy. Someone that doesn’t smoke will find the optimal healing with PRP therapy.
How many injections are a part of the therapy?
One injection is possible for effective treatment. There may be a possibility that it may take more than one. There is no protocol by which there is a certain number of PRP injections needed or optimal space of time between injections, however, 2 to 4 weeks in between injections is common.
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