If you’re like most people, you’re starting to hear more about PRP…but you may not understand what it is. If so, this blog is for you!
PRP is the acronym for Platelet-Rich Plasma and is a process commonly used in Regenerative Medicine, to reduce pain and promote healing of damaged tissues.
Dr. Kelley Mulhern
What is the Process of PRP?
The first step in the process of PRP treatment is to have a consultation with a clinician. They will explore your medical history to make sure you’re an appropriate candidate for PRP treatment and don’t have any contra-indications.
The next step involves an examination of the area to be treated with PRP. This examination can include palpation, orthopedic tests, neurological tests, range of motion, and imaging. The examination confirms a diagnosis and whether or not it is likely to respond to PRP treatment.
If the patient has been determined to be a candidate for PRP, a small quantity (usually 1-2 vials) of blood is drawn from a vein in his or her arm.
Once the blood is drawn, it is placed in a centrifuge and “spun down.” This separates the components of the blood by their weight. The red blood cells contain iron and are the heaviest, so they sink to the bottom of the tube. The next layer up is a light tan color and is called the “buffy coat.” The buffy coat contains white blood cells, proteins, growth factors, and platelets. The top-most layer in the test tube is the plasma.
By using different test tubes with different solutions, it is possible to obtain a white blood cell rich PRP and a white blood cell poor PRP. (More commonly known by the clinical names, leukocyte-rich and leukocyte-poor, PRP.) These can be used when appropriate for specific conditions.
The medical provider uses a syringe to draw off the platelets and the plasma. The red blood cells are discarded. The platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is now ready to be used!
Depending on the area to be injected, the practitioner may use a freezing agent to temporarily numb the injection site. For deeper injections, he or she may also inject lidocaine first, to make the PRP injection more comfortable. Most people are able to tolerate the PRP injection well.
Following a PRP treatment, the medical provider will give you some instructions. Commonly they will advise you to stay away from anti-inflammatory medications and supplements for up to 2 weeks. Additionally, you should rest the injected area for several days, and avoid strenuous activity for 1-2 weeks. Also, you should refrain from using pools, bathtubs, hot tubs, and swimming in lakes, rivers, or the ocean until the injection sites have healed.
What Should I Expect?
Every patient’s results are their own. Many patients experience reduced pain and increased mobility within hours or days. The results of a PRP treatment depend on several factors:
- Was PRP appropriate for your condition?
- How well did you follow the after-care instructions? If you ran a marathon a week after your injections, you may not experience optimal results.
- How is your health in general? For example, if you have uncontrolled blood sugar, it may reduce the effects of PRP. Or, if a patient is morbidly obese and has their knees injected but does not lose weight. Over time, the additional weight will continue to ravage and destroy the joints and negate the benefits of the PRP.
How Many Treatments Do I Need?
Therefore, every person is different. However, most degenerative conditions require a series of PRP treatments spaced apart by 2-4 weeks. The longer a condition has lingered, the more severe the injury, the more numerous the additional health issues, etc. – the more treatments may be necessary.
One PRP treatment will continue to work (on average) for 5-7 months. The resulting changes can last for years, and in some cases, a lifetime.
What Conditions Can PRP Help?
PRP in Regenerative Medicine is an important element in the process. PRP can be used to help a variety of musculoskeletal and aesthetic issues, such as:
- Anti-Aging (reduce lines and wrinkles)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Joint Pain
- Knee Pain
- Labral injuries
- Meniscal injuries
- Migraine headaches
- Partial muscle, ligament, or tendon tears
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Shin Splints
- Shoulder Pain
- Thinning Hair
- Trigger points
Our mission is to help as many people as possible live longer, happier, and healthier lives without pain, drugs, or surgery. We invite you to call our office for a free consultation regarding our cutting-edge treatment options in St. Petersburg. We’ve helped many patients in the Greater St. Petersburg area, and we hope you’ll give us a chance to help you.