Whether you’ve been living with arthritis for years, are recently recovering from surgery, or have suffered acute ligament damage, you probably want to find a way to help your body heal quickly and efficiently.
Your doctor may have suggested conventional approaches such as eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of rest. Or, he or she may have suggested a more innovative treatment plan like platelet-rich plasma injections (PRP). PRP is a relatively new procedure that could be what you’re looking for in terms of treatment and relief options.
If you would like to learn more about this procedure, here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about PRP.
What Exactly is PRP Therapy?
Your blood is made up of several important components, including platelets. If you suffer an injury, such as a cut or abrasion, your body sends extra platelets to the affected site. It is the platelet’s job to form a clot and stop the bleeding. In addition to this critical job, platelets are also critical to your body’s natural healing process.
PRP therapy harnesses the power of platelets to help increase the body’s own ability to heal. The doctor will take the patient’s own blood, isolate the platelets, and inject the substance directly into the affected area.
When an individual suffers from a condition that causes tissue damage, such as arthritis, or an acute injury, it creates scar tissue. The scar tissue makes it difficult for the wound or damage to heal. PRP helps the body heal itself, but it cannot cure any conditions or causes of scar tissue.
Will PRP Therapy Benefit Me?
Talk with your doctor about specific conditions that will benefit from PRP therapy, including:
- Shoulder pain
- Tennis elbow
- Knee, hip, ankle or shoulder arthritis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rotator cuff injuries
Discuss the other possible conditions and issues that can be treated with PRP therapy with your doctor, including hair loss. In some cases, when combined with other hair loss treatments and medications, your doctor may recommend using PRP therapy to treat hair loss in both men and women.
What Does PRP Therapy Involve?
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a minimally invasive treatment that is completed in your doctor’s office. Your doctor will begin by discussing your medical history, your family’s medical history, and what results you want to achieve from your PRP therapy. A list of pre-procedure steps will be provided by your doctor.
On the day of the procedure, your doctor will begin by drawing your blood. Your blood is then tested and placed into a centrifuge, a machine that separates the blood and isolates the platelets. Next, your doctor will use an ultrasound machine to isolate the exact location of your scar tissue and inflammation.
Depending on the site of your injury or your level of discomfort, your doctor may inject a numbing medication into the affected area prior to locating the scar tissue and inflammation with an ultrasound.
Finally, the doctor will inject the plasma directly into the affected area. Staying still and remaining calm while the doctor injects the plasma to ensure accuracy. A bandage is placed over the injection site and your doctor will provide you with aftercare instructions.
What Can I Expect After PRP Therapy?
Everyone will react differently to PRP therapy. Your doctor will help you understand what you can expect after the procedure. For example, you may experience discomfort and swelling at the affected site. Depending on the injection site, you may be asked to wear a sling or brace to keep the affected area immobilized.
Some patients will experience more discomfort than others. Placing an ice pack on the injection site for a few minutes several times a day can help alleviate this pain. Your doctor may prescribe a pain reliever. Take this medication according to your doctor’s instructions.
Watch for signs of infection at the injection site, although it is rare. Symptoms of an infection include severe redness and swelling, oozing, and a fever. If you experience these symptoms, talk to your doctor right away. Antibiotics are often prescribed if your doctor believes there is an infection.
Your doctor will provide you with a schedule to help you ease back into your everyday activities. For example, if PRP was used to treat tennis elbow, the doctor will provide you with exercises to help strengthen the muscles and tendons without placing unnecessary strain on the affected area. It can take several days or weeks to regain complete mobility.
Following your doctor’s orders, including prescribed physical therapy and attending follow-up appointments, will help ensure your PRP therapy is successful.
PRP injections can help people suffering from a number of conditions. If you have any further questions about PRP or want to see if it is right for you, contact Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates.