You may have heard of donating your own blood before surgery to avoid problems with transfusions. Well, there is another treatment that uses your own blood to speed up the healing process for injuries. It’s called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. Doctors have used it for several years to treat tendon injuries, but now its use is expanding to other injuries and conditions. Understanding the therapy and its procedures can help you decide if it is right for you.
What is PRP?
With this treatment we take a sample of your own blood and spin it in a centrifuge. This separates out the platelets—tiny components in your blood that help with clotting. They also contain proteins known as growth factors, which promote healing in your tissues. Re-combined with your own blood, they form platelet-rich plasma.
PRP is used to treat your injury in one of two ways. First, it can be carefully injected at the site of the injury. If a tendon is damaged, the tissue around it becomes swollen and inflamed, causing pain. When PRP is injected into the tissue, it is believed that the increased concentration of growth factors speeds up the healing process. You may actually have an increase in pain at first, but then the tissue regenerates and you begin to feel the benefits.
Second, PRP may be used during surgery for a torn tendon. A form of the solution can be incorporated right into the tissue at the site of the repair, such as the heel cord. The extra growth factors are available right where they are needed to promote faster healing.
Does It Work?
Many athletes have had this procedure and some of them say that their healing times were reduced, which meant that they were able to get back in the game sooner. Studies are underway to measure the effectiveness of platelet-rich plasma therapy, but the current studies are inconclusive. It seems the results vary depending on the type of injury treated and which part of the body is affected.
Current understanding is that PRP therapy is most effective for chronic problems with the tendons in your elbow. Anecdotal evidence exists for improved healing in other cases, such as knee injuries, Achilles tendon problems, and plantar fasciitis. Science is a deliberate process, however, and more study is needed for researchers to confirm the usefulness of the plasma treatment for other injuries.
Can It Help You?
PRP therapy shows great promise. It may be the right choice for you since the level of risk, such as infection or damage to tissues or nerves, is no more than with other conservative ways to treat tendon injuries. If other methods have not brought relief from your pain, it may benefit you to try PRP treatments to see if they improve your healing.
At Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates, our experts are well-trained to administer this treatment and monitor your progress. We offer treatment of acute injuries within 24 hours, with digital X-rays available right in our office. Contact us in Edgewater at (386) 957-4818 or check our website for other locations and phone numbers. You can also request an appointment online.