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One regenerative treatment that has become exceptionally popular over the past decade is the use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which is an effective, non-invasive method that can not only provide pain relief, but allow the area to heal in order to produce long-term results.
PRP therapy has been commonly used for decades in wound care, dentistry, urology and other fields. As the success has persisted in these fields, platelet rich plasma therapy has found its way into the musculoskeletal realm, effectively treating degenerative arthritis, sports injuries and overuse conditions like tendonitis and rotator cuff tears.
PRP therapy is a type of injection, which contains platelet-rich plasma. The platelets that are found within your blood actually release from the blood when your body is injured, and they work to heal the injured area from the damage. When PRP therapy is used, a sample of your own blood is taken, and then the blood is mixed so that the platelets within the blood are separated from the other parts.
This is performed in a centrifuge device which spins the blood rapidly, concentrating the healing elements. Out of the 30 to 60 cc’s of blood that is taken from a patient, only 5 to 10 cc’s is available for use once the spinning occurs.
The platelets and growth factors are then taken and put into a syringe, which is then injected into the area that needs the therapy. Due to using your own blood for the injection, the risk of your body not accepting the treatment is eliminated, and your body will see the injection as a natural occurrence and use the platelets most effectively.
The growth factors in the PRP therapy will assist with healing the injury, and also call in stem cells from the body for additional healing. There are no less than seven separate growth factors in PRP, which facilitates healing.
When PRP therapy is used into a joint such as the hip, knee or shoulder, the treatment is first prepared, and then the injection is placed in the joint with sterile technique. The injection contains the concentrated materials, which sparks up inflammation in the area. This helps facilitate healing of the cartilage, tendons and ligaments. While the body provides platelets and growth factors naturally, this is done at a much slower rate than the pace that is offered through PRP injections.
With the increased amount of platelets, the area typically receives pain relief, while also healing. While many treatments offer short-term healing, the use of PRP can help the tissue to repair itself over time. Arthritis occurs within the knee when the joints that are present in the area are no longer able to keep the bones properly spread apart. This allows the bones to rub together and makes the condition of arthritis worse. By preserving remaining cartilage and potentially producing more cartilage, the bones may not rub together anymore, and healing can occur.
In addition, PRP therapy is an active attractant for the body’s stem cells. These are called into the area to facilitate healing.
Several high profile athletes over the past decade have turned to PRP therapy for nonoperative assistance to help heal ligament, tendon and joint injuries. Kobe Bryant, Rafael Nadal, Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriquez, Hines Ward and Brandon Roy are just a few. The therapy has helped revive careers, prevent the need for surgery and is often used in conjunction with stem cell therapy for optimal results.
While some people will experience immediate relief from knee pain that is associated with arthritis, pain relief will take longer for some. However, it is generally experienced within the first 48 hours. While healing can take a few years to occur, the amount of healing that does occur, and the rate it occurs, are based upon each individual case. Often times, PRP therapy leads to increased pain for a day or two with the inflammation, and then relief “kicks in”.
Once the PRP treatment is provided to the patient, pain relief can last up to one year, but the additional treatments are generally provided at three to six months. By getting the treatments within the six-month window, the PRP treatment is more successful for keeping pain away. There are several recent studies that have come out showing the benefits of PRP therapy for various conditions.
The Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC performed a knee arthritis study with PRP and showed significant pain relief, functional improvement and cartilage preservation with only one injection. A study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine evaluated PRP therapy for chronic tennis elbow. Over 95% of patients were able to avoid the need for surgery and achieve relief.
Another study reported that PRP can be more effective than cortisone injections for short-term and long-term relief of severe chronic plantar fasciitis. In one study, researchers demonstrated a 94% “return to play” for athletes who underwent PRP injections for partial ulnar collateral ligament tears.
Studies continue to come out in favor of PRP therapy versus traditional treatments. For instance, a study this year in the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation showed dramatic pain relief and functional improvement for back pain due to degenerative disc disease. The results were impressive and sustained for over a year.
PRP therapy for hair restoration has become extremely popular due to its effectiveness and the fact that it costs so much less than a hair transplant. The PRP therapy for hair loss stimulates the growth of hair follicles and works extremely well for those with thinning hair. For a full explanation of PRP for hair loss, CLICK HERE.
There isn’t much preparation involved for the PRP therapy, and your regenerative medicine doctor will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding preparation, as well as the treatment process. Due to the way the PRP treatment is given, there is little to no recovery time involved, and the only side-effect generally experienced is a tenderness in the area where the shot was administered, which will clear up within the first 48 hours.
R3 Stem Cell works with top regenerative medicine clinics nationwide to help with PRP therapy, bone marrow derived stem cell injections and amniotic derived stem cell therapy for arthritis, tendonitis and ligament injuries. Visit the Find a Doctor page to locate a top clinic closest to you! You can also call (844) GET-STEM for help.
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The most revolutionary regenerative medicine treatments now being offered include amniotic and umbilical stem cell treatments. These are FDA regulated and contain growth factors, hyaluronic acid, cytokines and stem cells.