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Doctors have recently discovered that the body seems to have the power to cure itself. Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a type of regenerative medicine that can increase the natural growth factors that your body employs to mend tissue.

What is the difference between platelets and plasma?

The liquid component of whole blood is plasma. It is mainly made up of water and proteins. Also, it serves as a transport medium for red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets throughout the body. Platelets, also known as thrombocytes, are blood cells that help the body mend itself by producing blood clots.

Platelet activation is an essential part of the body’s natural healing process.

What are platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy accelerates the repair of injured ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joints by injecting a full concentration of the patient’s own naturally produced platelets. PRP injections work by utilizing each patient’s natural healing system to alleviate musculoskeletal issues.

PRP injections are made by centrifuging one to several tubes of your blood to make the platelets more concentrated. These activated platelets are injected into the wounded or sick tissue of your body. This causes growth factors to be released, stimulating and increasing the supply of reparative cells produced by your body.

In some cases, ultrasound imaging is used to guide the injection.

What are platelet-rich plasma injections used for, and how do they work?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are increasingly used for injury caused by Achilles tendon tears, rotator cuff ruptures, and other debilitating soft-tissue injuries.

PRP has been shown to improve function and reduce pain in persons with tendonitis or chronic tendinosis diseases like golfers or tennis elbow.

PRP injections provide several advantages, including the ability to lessen the necessity of anti-inflammatories and harsher drugs like opioids. Furthermore, PRP injections are made from your blood; they have few side effects because your body will neither reject nor react badly to them.

PRP is injected into patients, and ultrasound assistance can help with the accurate placement of PRP. After receiving the injection, the patient must rest for a few days before starting a rehabilitation activity regimen.

Is platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy effective?

Big-name athletes like Tiger Woods, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal and Kobe Bryant have used platelet-rich plasma to treat injuries and soft tissue conditions.

PRP treatment for chronic tendon disorders such as lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) and Achilles tendinosis, which affects the Achilles tendon, has shown the most promising early outcomes. When utilized to treat rotator cuff injuries or tears and medial collateral ligament (MCL) injuries in the knee, PRP has yielded positive or equivalent results.

Overall, studies have shown that when paired with a larger treatment plan, PRP can be effective “to restore the healing process and provide significant improvement in both pain and functional scores”. Also, because these substances are autologous (from one’s own body) there is no risk of rejection and they are proven safe. However, some experience soreness or discomfort for a few days after the procedure.

Use a Rehabilitation Treatment Plan

Platelet-rich plasma can be more effective with a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. The recovering from an injury such as tennis elbow,  it’s important to rest from activities. During rest, try cold or heat therapy to help with pain and inflammation. Physical therapy can be helpful after the inflammation has decreased. Gentle strengthening and stretching exercises are great not only for recovery but also helps prevent re-injury. Braces and compression can also be of assistance. Some other doctors suggest steroid injects or electrical muscle stimulation (EMS).

As with any injury, it’s vital to consult and arrange a treatment plan with you doctor.

 

Author Dr. Rand

Dr. McClain has dedicated over 35 years of his personal and professional life studying nutrition, exercise, herbs and supplements and is also a Master of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

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