Though the human body is a resilient organism, over time, damage from physical stress starts to accumulate. The wear and tear of daily life takes its toll on muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Over time this wear and tear results in small or large tears in the supportive tissue of joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that cause inflammation, pain, and instability. Today we will discuss the benefits of therapy with platelet rich plasma (PRP) for these types of conditions.
These types of injuries, whether they happen over time or suddenly with a misjudged movement or accident, are incredibly common. They happen frequently in active adults who exercise regularly and are otherwise healthy. They happen more frequently with age as joints become more stiff and arthritic. And they occur in people whose muscles and tendons have weakened with inactivity due to various reasons. These types of wear and tear injuries of the musculoskeletal system are known as degenerative changes, because if you live long enough the degeneration of the body results in loss of resiliency.
So, if the problem is degeneration, then the ideal treatment for these conditions would be focused on regeneration. Your body has remarkable regenerative capabilities. After an acute injury or instance of inflammation there are many processes that are triggered to rebuild healthy soft tissue. This all starts with the release of growth factors in response to inflammatory cells that flood the site of the injury. So, in the beginning phase, inflammation is a friend of regeneration and healing. However, after the initial phase of healing drops off, continued inflammation can be harmful by causing prolonged pain and swelling. This is the point when anti-inflammatories such steroids and ibuprofen are used for symptom management rather than healing.
Let’s think about inflammation as a fire alarm and growth factors as fire fighters. Once the fire fighters are tapped out of resources, they go home. After the acute phase of healing if there is still damage and inflammation without regeneration, you just have a raging fire with a blaring alarm and no fire fighters to be seen. Meaning if you have a chronic injury that keeps flaring up due to overuse you can wind up with prolonged inflammation and little to no regeneration. This is where regenerative medicine offers an exciting solution by rejuvenating the body’s own healing response in old injuries.
Platelet Rich Plasma, or PRP, is a regenerative therapy that offers remarkable promise in the recovery of chronic injuries. The therapy involves drawing a small amount of blood and then using a special process to manipulate the plasma in a way that it holds onto a high concentration of platelets. These platelets are valuable since they are rich in your body’s most potent growth factors. When PRP is injected into a chronically injured joint, tendon, or muscle, these growth factors start a highly productive healing phase that results in regeneration and remodeling of healthy new tissue. Since this process is initiated by your body’s own plasma, it is incredibly safe and highly successful. This procedure has been used for soft tissue regeneration for over 20 years now and has been embraced by prominent orthopedists, surgeons, researchers, athletes, and patients alike.
There are almost as many uses of PRP as there are body parts, with new techniques and procedures developed regularly. It was originally developed for tendon injuries and is well established as an effective therapy for all musculoskeletal injuries. Examples of injuries and conditions that respond well to PRP therapy include, but most certainly are not limited, to:
Many people notice immediate improvement after PRP therapy, but some people have a brief period of increased pain for a few days following the procedure. This is because the influx of potent growth factors stimulates inflammation which, as discussed above, is important for calling on the cells needed for healing and rebuilding. Because this inflammation is so important, patients should avoid anti-inflammatories for a few days before and after PRP therapy.
After this brief period, the rebuilding phase commences, and it is highly encouraged for patients to actively strengthen the affected area with therapeutic exercises for the best chances of long-term recovery. Because the burst of growth factors supplied by the PRP injection dissipates after about a week, many people opt for a second injection two weeks following the first with the goal of compounding the regenerative effects.
As you can see, there are many benefits of therapy with platelet rich plasma. Call (512) 442-2727 or submit your information through the blue form to schedule a consultation at our South Austin, Texas location.
For information on the other treatment options available at Austin Preferred, see our Services page.
By: Nicole Griffis, HNP, APRN-BC