Whether you were in a car accident or slid incorrectly into third base during a pick-up softball game, physical injuries happen. With them can come pain, discomfort, and loss of motion. PRP injections (platelet-rich-plasma injections) from Renew Health in Tempe, AZ can ease these symptoms and even, depending on the nature of your injury, heal tissues for a more comprehensive recovery.
What Is the Success Rate of PRP Injections?
The success rate is very high, especially when you look at the results broken down by the condition treated. In a study of patients with tennis elbow, 84 percent of those treated with PRP injections reported substantial pain reduction. A similar study of patients with tendonitis revealed that most experienced at least some pain relief and 50 percent improved completely. Still another study revealed that patients suffering OA who received PRP injections showed a 95 percent improvement in pain.
Studies further show that patients experienced at least a 50 percent improvement in the strength and occurrence of back pain after receiving PRP therapy. Low back pain is considered the leading cause of disability around the world; finding a way to intervene and help patient outcomes is therefore crucial to maintaining a mobile population.
Neck Pain Improvements
A herniated disc can cause neck pain that radiates to the shoulder and arm. Some patients even experience hand tingling. These sensations range from dull to aching, are sometimes hard to localize, and can vary in intensity. Patients treated with PRP therapy experienced an 87 percent improvement in symptoms, according to a study that followed them for eight years.
Compared to Other Pain Relief Modalities
Continued work with PRP therapy shows it can significantly help adults grappling with joint pain that hasn’t previously responded to common pain relievers and/or physical therapy. It’s also beneficial in helping athletes recover more quickly from injuries so they can return to competition.
In comparing PRP therapy to cortisone injections, commonly administered to provide temporary pain relief, the latter only helps treat symptoms. PRP therapy, however, promotes internal healing that may take a little longer to reveal itself but ultimately provides longer-lasting and more permanent results.
A study revealed PRP therapy is also more effective in treating tennis elbow. After one year, 73 percent of patients treated with PRP were successfully healed compared to 51 percent of those treated with cortisone. It can prevent additional damage to joints and soft tissues and even eliminate the need for surgery.
Most patients, especially those with arthritis, are advised to gently exercise to reduce pain and improve function. But physical activity has limitations, especially when it causes further pain or discomfort. This leads to poor compliance in patients who feel it’s too challenging. Many providers have found a better alternative may be to follow PRP injections with exercise that eases patients back into physical activity.
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Under this category fall oral NSAIDs, which commonly work to relieve pain but can cause the onset of additional problems, like gastritis and peptic ulcer formation. PRP therapy can reduce or, with time, eliminate the need for oral pain relievers. Additionally, like with cortisone injections, PRP therapy addresses the underlying cause of pain or discomfort rather than mask the symptoms.
When PRP injections cannot prevent surgery, as in some cases of a torn rotator cuff, they can be used as supplemental therapy. Studies show that patients who receive these injections after surgery have a 45 percent reduced chance of experiencing a re-tear one year later.
What Is PRP Therapy?
The Importance of Platelets
Plasma serves as a vehicle that allows platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells to easily move within the body. With centrifugation, we are able to obtain a platelet concentration that is at least two times higher than normal blood flow. This harnesses the healing properties and allows for targeted treatment in the knee, back, or other specific site.
Healing occurs pretty regularly throughout the body. For instance, cells regenerate non-injured skin tissue every two weeks or so. This helps slow the natural aging process that comes with time; the body is built to sustain and survive as long as possible. Platelets are integral to most healing and regenerative processes, including:
- Maintaining tissues homeostasis
- Regulating inflammation
- Assisting with collagen synthesis
- Remodeling bones and blood vessels
Many Treatment Applications
Because of its versatile and critical abilities, PRP can successfully treat conditions like:
- Joint injuries, including tennis elbow
- Osteoarthritis (OA) and associated pain
- Muscle, sports, and repetitive use injuries
- Chronic back and neck pain
- Torn tendons
- Certain headaches
More Potent Than Blood
You might be wondering why normal blood flow doesn’t lead to the kind of regeneration we’ve discussed here. While blood does promote healing, platelets used in the body are typically in much smaller concentrations than those of PRP injections. This means they aren’t potent enough to stimulate soft tissue growth to the degree needed for injuries.
Whole blood typically contains around 200,000 platelets per microliter. PRP, on the other hand, usually contains around 2 million. This concentration continuously brings healing cells to the injury site for sustained healing.
How Injections Work
Platelets also regulate internal immune system responses, meaning they can reduce inflammation that interferes with tissue healing. And, with the key ability to migrate to sites of pain, injury, and disorder, platelets naturally go where they are most needed. This means that PRP therapy stays relatively close to the injection site to optimize its responses.
PRP therapy may also ignite the body’s production of hyaluronic acid (HA). This gel-like substance functions in a variety of ways throughout the body, including:
- Lubricating joints to reduce friction and absorb shock
- Growing bones and soft tissue
- Reducing inflammation and pain
It also keeps tissues hydrated so they function properly. By increasing HA levels within the body, PRP therapy can improve a patient’s chances of recovering from sprains, sports injuries, and frozen shoulder. HA can also reduce the effects of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis by restoring joint lubrication and promoting new cartilage growth.
What to Expect
A PRP treatment session may last between 30 and 90 minutes. It’s a relatively pain-free process, aside from a couple of needle pricks, and requires little to no recovery time. Some patients take a few days following treatment to rest; if we feel this may be beneficial for you, we’ll let you know.
You’ll typically experience pain relief within three to four weeks. In the following three to six months, symptoms will continue improving so that you regain some mobility and a greater range of motion. Ultimately, recovery time depends on the severity of your injury and the site we are treating. For conditions like arthritis, effects commonly last a year or more. We may then recommend maintenance sessions so you continue to experience results.
We’ll use a syringe to draw blood from your vein and then, after placing it into the centrifuge machine, prepare the PRP for injection. The treatment site will be cleansed and disinfected to ensure a bacteria-free environment. Sometimes ultrasound is used to assist with precise placement of the injection.
If we decide ultrasound will help our efforts, we’ll cover the treatment site will gel and then apply the ultrasound probe to skin. This provides a live image of the joint or tissue we’re addressing. Once you’re relaxed, we will inject the PRP and cleanse and bandage the injection area.
Pre- and Post-Treatment Guidelines
Prior to treatment, our office will give you precise instructions to optimize your care. A few suggestions we might make include the following:
- Eat a full, nutritious breakfast with plenty of water the day of therapy
- Stop anti-inflammatory medications three or four days before your appointment
- Stop all herbs, supplements, and vitamins one to two weeks before your appointment
We may also advise you to stop steroid medications and/or injections, which, again, you’ll know before your session. Because certain medications can interfere with healing and cause blood thinning, it’s important to provide us with a full list of those you’re currently taking. We’ll also ask questions about your medical history to ensure therapy is right for you.
We may suggest you limit using the site of treatment – such as the knee – but still continue moving it. This provides a short recovery period but also ensures surrounding tissues absorb the injection.
If you experience slight pain or discomfort in the treatment area, rest assured this is normal. It indicates the body is adjusting and healing. Drinking at least eight glasses of water per day will help the healing process and keep your body hydrated.
You should plan on avoiding smoking after therapy. Also stay away from hot baths and saunas for several days, as well as alcohol for the first two weeks. Don’t shower for 24 hours, and keep caffeine to a minimum for about a week.
By the two-week mark, you should be able to slowly start increasing activities. Exercise can also begin at this time. Physical activity is an important component of long-term care, and we can help develop a regimen that suits your physical needs.
Who Is This Right for?
We may not recommend this treatment for you if you:
- Have certain bleeding disorders
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Are anemic
Innovative and Effective
The body is often compared to a machine that can repair itself. Thanks to platelet-rich-plasma, we can harness this ability and deliver targeted therapy for musculoskeletal conditions. PRP is especially beneficial for conditions that don’t respond well to other treatment modalities. It is highly effective, as proven by scientific studies, very safe, and readily compatible with the body. In short, it may provide the relief you’ve been seeking, so contact us today at Renew Health in Tempe, AZ, to schedule a consultation.