Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is an all-natural form of therapy that helps speed healing of chronic injuries by harnessing your body’s innate regenerative capacity.
PRP is the first iteration of treatment in the emerging field of regenerative medicine. Previously considered experimental, PRP now boasts high-grade medical evidence to support its usage as a treatment for a wide range of joint and muscle ailments. This innovative new therapy involves using your body’s own blood platelets to promote the healing of chronic joint, tendon and muscle injuries – problems that were previously treatable only with rest and ice.
Made famous by pro golfer Tiger Woods, PRP is rapidly becoming a popular choice for elite athletes seeking treatment for osteoarthritis, tendonitis and other muscle and tendon injuries.
How does PRP work?
The function of platelets in the bloodstream is to recruit and stimulate growth factors to the site of tissue injury and release signaling molecules that facilitate tissue repair.
By injecting plasma containing concentrated platelets from your own bloodstream directly to the site of your injury, a cascading healing reaction is triggered. What’s more, this healing is effective even in areas of the body that do not normally receive adequate blood flow, such as the interior of your joints and tendons.
To ensure their accuracy, PRP injections are performed under an ultrasound; this way, the platelet-rich plasma can be guided directly to the site of tissue injury. Most patients find the procedure to be relatively painless, and the entire treatment takes about an hour.
Benefits of PRP
The healing effects of PRP have been proven to outlast those of many conventional therapies, such as cortisone or hyaluronic acid injections. An additional benefit of this all-natural treatment is that it doesn’t just relieve pain; it actually helps to heal the underlying issue, with noticeable benefits within six months. Platelet rich plasma has no known negative side effects, and its healing benefits can be amplified with additional treatments, although they’re not necessarily required.
Clinical studies have shown that PRP generates significant improvements in statistical and clinical outcomes, including pain, physical function and stiffness, in particular around the knee. Some studies indicate that improvements can occur within six weeks of the first injection.
Is PRP right for me?
- A PRP treatment could be right for you if you’re experiencing:
- Mild to moderate osteoarthritis (in most joints, but especially the knees, hips or shoulders)
- Lateral and medial epicondylitis (tennis and golfer’s elbow)
- Rotator cuff tendonitis or partial tears
- One of many other common tendon, muscle and ligament issues
Despite its growing popularity, not all PRP therapy is created equally. Studies have indicated that higher concentrations of PRP stimulate more efficient healing – and only a qualified specialist, using state-of-the-art medical equipment, can ensure this.
A consultation with your Copeman Healthcare physician will help you determine whether a PRP treatment is a good option for you. Platelet rich plasma therapy is currently available through physicians at our Calgary clinic, and physicians at our Vancouver clinic are slated to undergo PRP training in 2018.