Some have called PRP, or Platelet Rich Plasma, the holy grail of medicine. It’s been used for dental procedures, facial lifts, hair growth, and musculoskeletal conditions.
The history: during the 1970’s, research was done on separating blood components as a potential method to promote natural healing. Theoretically the drawn blood would be placed in a centrifuge and spun to separate the red blood cells into healing components. In 1999 oral surgeons began using PRP in dental implant surgeries to promote the osseointegration of the dental implant to bone for strength. By 2006, the use of PRP became popular with professional athletes to accelerate the healing of sports injuries. You may have even heard of famous athletes like Tiger Woods, Maria Sharapova, or Kobe Bryant using PRP for injuries. In 2009 the FDA approved use of PRP for multiple modalities including chronic pain of joints, tendons, and muscles.
So how does it work?
When you have an injury, the natural body response is to deliver platelets to the injured site. These cells have healing properties and assist in wound repair with natural healing. To recreate this process with PRP therapy, a physician will take a small amount of blood from the patient’s arm, and place in a centrifuge to separate the components and isolate the platelets. The injury site is numbed and the platelets, or PRP, are injected into the injury site. This is to encourage the body’s natural healing signals at a more rapid pace. There is no risk of infection because your own blood is used. In some cases, ultrasound may be used for accuracy to the injection site.
PRP has multiple advantages over surgical procedures:
- Fewer side effects compared to steroid injections or surgery
- Long lasting results
- Natural and organic
- Promotes healing
- Minimal or no down time
- Minimally invasive
- In-office procedure
While PRP is sometimes used with surgery, it is generally performed as an out-patient procedure in a physician’s office during one visit lasting about an hour. PRP treatment may relieve pain or discomfort without surgical risks, anesthesia, hospital stays, or a recovery period. Patients typically return to normal activities after 24 hours. Side effects are minimal; some patients may experience a small bruise or swelling at the injection site that may be treated with ice and elevation. Since everyone is unique, results differ from patient to patient. Some achieve immediate relief while others require two or three injections at prescribed intervals. Still others may not achieve an optimum result.
While PRP is not a medical “holy grail” and not for everyone, people who have exhausted other methods including steroid and gel injections may opt for this as an alternative treatment to resolve their pain without surgery. Ask us for more information and if you are a candidate for this technology.
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