WHAT IS PRP (PLATELET RICH PLASMA)?
Platelet Rich Plasma therapy (PRP) is a ground breaking non-operative treatment option that relieves pain by naturally promoting long lasting healing of musculoskeletal conditions. The acronym “PRP” has most recently been featured in the news with the rising popularity of the treatment among professional athletes, recreational athletes, and highly functional individuals. Many have attributed PRP injections, particularly for athletic injuries, with enabling them to return back to regular activities and competition with minimal to no pain at all. This rapidly emerging technique shows very promising potential for many conditions such as arthritis, tendonitis, and ligament sprains and tears.
The Science behind PRP
Our blood is made up of 93% red blood cells, 6% white blood cells, 1% platelets and plasma. Platelets are best known for their function of blood-clotting to stop bleeding. Platelets, however, are much more significant than this, as human platelets are also a critical component in injury healing.
Platelets are naturally extremely rich in the connective tissue growth and healing factors. The body’s first response to tissue injury is to deliver platelets to the area. Platelets initiate repair and attract stem cells to the injury. Injecting these growth factors into damaged ligaments, tendons, and joints stimulates the natural repair process. In order to maximize the healing process, the platelets must be concentrated and separated from the red blood cells. The goal of PRP is to maximize the number of platelets while minimizing the number of red blood cells in a solution that is injected into the injured or pained area(s). In summary, PRP creates, stimulates, and accelerates the body’s natural healing process.
Common utilization of PRP in conditions
PRP treatment works most effectively for chronic ligament and tendon sprains/strains that have failed other conservative treatment, including but not limited to:
- Lumbar spine disc pain
- Rotator cuff injuries, including partial-thickness
- Shoulder pain and instability
- Tennis and golfer’s elbow
- Hamstring and hip strains
- Knee sprains and instability
- Patellofemoral syndrome and patellar tendonitis
- Ankle sprains
- Achilles tendonitis & plantar fasciitis
- Knee, hip, and other joint osteoarthritis
- Nerve entrapment syndromes, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction and pain
- Lumbar and cervical facet dysfunction and pain
How PRP is Created
Creation of PRP is simple, painless, and conveniently done at an office visit. The entire process of drawing blood to solution preparation only takes approximately 25-30 minutes. A small amount of blood is drawn from the patient, just like a routine blood test. Once the blood is drawn it is then placed into a centrifuge. The centrifuge is a machine that spins the blood at high speeds in order to separate the blood into red blood cells and concentrated platelets. Once the blood is separated the red blood cells are discarded, and we are left with concentrated platelet rich plasma (PRP) which is ready to be used in the treatment process.
PRP in Hair Loss and Hair Growth
Individual results vary with each patient. No guarantees of success can be made but PRP preliminary studies indicate patients can respond to PRP therapy. Human blood contains mesenchymal stem cells, and autologous blood products that contain essential and specific growth factors that assist in tissue regeneration and healing. Published medical literature from Europe and the United States confirms the safety and use of PRP therapy. It has been used a medial adjunct therapy for over two decades for skin and wound healing. PRP therapy has established itself to be effective as a medical treatment modality in the specialty fields of oral surgery, neurosurgery, plastic and cosmetic surgery, sports medicine and orthopedics. It has been used extensively in these specialties for the last twenty years with generally positive outcomes and success. In the field of hair restoration, evidence supports PRP therapy as a promising treatment option to promote hair growth. No claim can be made of its efficacy. While PRP is in the early stages of scientific research in hair restoration, PRP is not meant to replace current FDA approved therapies such as DHT blockers and Minoxidil. But it is a promising non-surgical therapeutic option for those patients with hair loss.
Are There Risks with PRP?
Overall, PRP is an especially safe treatment option with no risk of allergic reaction because it is your own blood. However, anytime a needle is placed in the body, there is a risk of infection, bleeding, and nerve damage. These risks do not happen often, and are very rare.