Many people who play sports on a regular basis suffer injuries from trauma or chronic overuse. The repair of these injured tissues can be a long one and that can be frustrating for someone who is anxious to recover quickly so they can go back to enjoying their sports of choice.
The process of healing is a complex one. In order to heal, the body uses proteins and other elements to stimulate growth of cells. This is referred to as “growth factors.” Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy can help injured patients produce growth factors at a faster rate, helping to accelerate the healing process. PRP therapy involves isolating growth factors from the patient’s own sample of blood and then injecting those concentrated growth factors into the site of the injury.
What Is PRP Therapy?
In order to understand how PRP therapy works, it is important to understand how the parts of the process itself. The plasma part of the procedure is the liquid of the blood which carries both red and white blood cells. The main ingredient in plasma is water, however, there is also antibodies, glucose, nutrients, and proteins.
Platelets are colorless blood cells that are produced in the bone marrow, just like the body’s red and white blood cells. Platelets form clots to stop bleeding. When a blood vessel is damaged and begins to bleed, a signal is sent to the platelets, which are then dispatched to the damage site and form a plug that repairs the damage. Platelets also contain growth factors which contribute to cell division, healing, and tissue regeneration.
PRP treatments are done right in the doctor’s office. The process takes about a half hour from start to finish. The first step is taking a sample of blood from the patient. Blood is withdrawn from a vein in the arm. That sample is then placed into a centrifuge. A centrifuge is a special machine that spins the contents at a high rate of speed in order to separate the blood cells from the blood sample. The doctor will extract the platelet from the blood sample. Those platelets are then injected into the injury site.
Not all medical practices offer PRP treatments. Patients have successfully treated suffered from a variety of conditions including:
- Cartilage injuries
- Elbow tendonitis (tennis elbow)
- Muscle tears
- Patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee)
- Tendon injuries
PRP injections can both relieve pain and stimulate healing.