May 12

Platelet-rich plasma Injections: What you need to know!

If you’ve ever heard of regenerative medicine, you may be shaking your head trying to figure out what that is. But if you’ve ever cut your finger and watched as your body healed, you’ve witnessed the basis on which regenerative medicine stands.

Regenerative medicine is a newer area of medicine focusing on learning technologies that mimic how the body heals itself. (1) This innovative form of medicine was first introduced in the early 1990s with stem cell research.

Thanks to technological advances, a new form of regenerative medicine is now available to those looking to help their bodies heal and regain vitality. But while most peoples’ introduction to platelet-rich plasma injections is thanks to its growing popularity in the cosmetic facial world, new uses for this regenerative medicine practice are paving the way to help those experiencing more than just a few wrinkles.

So, what are platelet-rich plasma treatments, and what can they do for you?

A doctors instrument with holistic medicine symnbols

What is platelet-rich plasma (PRP)?

As the name suggests, platelet-rich plasma injections contain both platelets and plasma, two components in the blood. While plasma is the clear liquid in the blood that carries the various blood cells, such as red and white blood cells and other proteins, platelets are small cells that are a significant component in our
body’s ability to stop bleeding.

In addition to platelets being responsible for the clotting response in the body, they also contain a growth factor. The growth factor can start a cascade of other reactions in the body, including cell division and migration- both involved in wound and soft tissue healing. (2)

A doctor in a white lab coat with a graphic of regenerative medicine and DNA overlayed in front of him.

How does a platelet-rich plasma injection work?

The growth factor in platelets prompts a release of proteins in the blood that then repair damaged tissues, cells, cartilage, and blood vessels. However, because the body can only produce so many platelets at a time, one of the main benefits of PRP injections is placing a higher concentration of platelets into one
area, exponentially increasing their healing power.

The PRP injection procedure begins with extracting the patient’s blood. Extraction is similar to drawing blood for donations, and after removing one to two vials of blood, the blood is placed in a centrifuge where the platelets separate from the red blood cells. Then, an anti–coagulating substance is mixed in with the platelets to prevent clotting; then it is injected into the affected area (3)

What are PRP injections for?


While research continues to look for new and innovative ways to use PRP injections, here are a few current uses:


● PRP for tendon, ligament, muscle, and joint injuries: From tennis elbow to hip issues, those experiencing chronic problems that may not be severe enough for surgery may benefit from PRP injections.
● Post-surgical healing: Recovery times are often longer with certain surgeries, such as jaw and plastic surgery- and PRP injections promote faster healing.
Osteoarthritis: There is growing evidence surrounding PRP for OA, as many initial studies show promising results, including reduced inflammation and increased mobility.
Hair loss: PRP injections have successfully prevented hair loss associated with male pattern baldness and stimulated new growth.
Skin rejuvenation: PRP with micro-needling is a common skin treatment, as it helps boost collagen production to smooth the appearance of fine lines and other signs of aging.

A women looking in a mirror admiring her beautiful skin.

What are the possible side effects of platelet-rich plasma injections?

Because platelet-rich plasma injections use the patient’s blood, there is little risk associated with this innovative treatment. However, like most medical treatments, there are some potential side effects that consumers should be aware of. (4)


● Pain and bruising: PRP injections include first drawing blood, which can cause pain and bruising if the technician has difficulty accessing the vein. Moreover, some bruising and pain may result from the PRP injection itself.
● Infection: There is a risk for infection anytime the skin’s protective layer is broken, as there is potential for introducing bacteria. PRP injections are done using a sterile technique to minimize this risk.
Tissue or nerve damage: While many providers use ultrasound to guide the PRP injections, there is a risk that a nerve will be affected, leading to nerve or tissue damage.

What to expect before, during, and after a PRP injection

Before the platelet-rich plasma injection, patients should stay hydrated, as dehydration could affect the provider’s ability to obtain a blood sample. Also, getting plenty of rest is essential to avoid being tired during the procedure.

During the procedure, the doctor will cleanse the injection site thoroughly, then inject the PRP, sometimes using ultrasound to see the area better. The injection may cause pain but should only take one to two minutes.

Following the procedure, the injection site may be sore with some bruising, but it should not worsen. Be sure to follow the instructions from your doctor, but here are some post-injection instructions that you can follow: (5)


● Avoid strenuous activity, especially in the affected area
● Continue to alternate ice/heat on the affected joint to reduce swelling and pain
● Wear a splint to stabilize the joint if appropriate
● If PRP is on a knee, continue to elevate the knee at night to reduce swelling further
● Avoid using medications that may affect the effectiveness of PRP injection, such as Advil and Ibuprofen

A platelet rich plasma injection being administered to a patients knee.

The bottom line- do PRP injections work?

Currently, the available evidence supports PRP as an appropriate treatment for joint and soft tissue injuries. In a randomized comparative trial using PRP to treat knee OA, the results were terrific!

Participants not only reported improved knee pain, but they also had improved activity levels for a year after. (3) So, while platelet-rich plasma treatments may not be appropriate for those who need immediate surgery, they can be helpful for those with chronic joint issues.

Platelet-rich plasma injection in Maryland

At Shakthi Health and Wellness, regenerative medicine is a crucial part of treatment for many patients. Using the body’s power to heal itself is at the core of regenerative medicine, and Dr. Jyothi Rao and her team will assess your health needs to determine if PRP injections are right for you.

To learn more about PRP or schedule a visit with Dr. Rao, call us at 301.703.5067. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can answer your questions.

Sources:

  1. What Is Regenerative Medicine? (webmd.com)
  2. Platelet Rich Plasma Treatment – Penn Medicine
  3. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): Does It Work? – Forbes Health
  4. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections | Johns Hopkins Medicine
  5. Does platelet-rich plasma for the knee work? (medicalnewstoday.com)

Tags

Aging Gracefully, anti-aging


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