Did you know your body has an amazing ability to heal itself? Historically patients were told they would need certain invasive surgery to heal particular injuries, but today we know that many times these same injuries can be healed with growth factors that come directly from your own body. Regenerative medicine takes advantage of our natural ability to heal ourselves by using healthy regenerative cells found throughout the body.
One example is PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) therapy. This is a treatment that aids in the body’s natural ability to heal its’ injuries and amplify the natural growth factors your body uses to heal soft tissue injuries.
When you injure a tendon or ligament, the connective fibers and tissues can be stretched and torn. Historically, patients with tissue tears were often told they needed surgery to repair them. Today, we have much less invasive and safer options for patients to be treated for soft tissue injuries with treatments such as PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma). Some of the soft tissue and cartilage tears that PRP has the potential to improve, repair and regenerate are partial rotator cuff tears, meniscus tears in the knee, partial labrum tears in the hips, Achilles tendon tears, tennis elbow, and the like.
Understanding What is Plasma and What are Platelets?
PRP is an autologous preparation of a patient’s whole blood, which is centrifuged or filtered, allowing separation of a fraction containing a supraphysiologic concentration of platelets. PRP allows a high “dose” of growth factors and other bioactive proteins such as cytokines and chemokines to be delivered to the target (the damaged tissue) through an x-ray guided injection.
Plasma is the liquid portion of whole blood. It is composed largely of water and proteins, and it provides a medium for red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to circulate through the body. Platelets, also called thrombocytes, are blood cells that cause blood clots and other necessary growth healing functions.
Platelets once thought of being responsible only for clotting, have been scientifically proven to be a reservoir of these vital healing components.
Platelet activation plays a key role in the body's natural healing process.
PRP injections are prepared by taking anywhere from one to a few tubes of your own blood and running it through a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets. These activated platelets are then injected directly into your injured body tissue. This releases growth factors that stimulate and increase the number of reparative cells your body produces.
The healing cascade takes about 4-6 weeks to signal regenerative cells to repair and rebuild the damaged tissue. Some patients need 2-3 treatments to see the full benefit, but often times one treatment is enough. You have probably heard about PRP being used to assist professional athletes like Tiger Woods and many others to accelerate the healing time of their soft tissue injuries. These athletes received PRP after experiencing injuries that should have sidelined them for months. Instead, they’ve experienced faster recovery times thanks to PRP treatments.
PRP therapy can potentially treat a range of sports and acute injuries resulting in joint, tendon, and ligament pain. Soft tissue injuries as mentioned above are most responsive to PRP treatment.
Talk with your physician about PRP therapy as an option to heal your soft tissue injuries to see if you are a candidate before opting for surgery.