Patients with all kinds of orthopedic injuries and ailments need relief, and the growing possibilities of medical technology today mean that new methods of treatment become available all the time. One such treatment that is especially effective toward certain sports injuries and other orthopedic injuries is platelet-rich plasma therapy, or PRP therapy.
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy?
As the name indicates, PRP therapy involves transfusing blood plasma after enriching it with additional blood platelets for the benefit of the patient. This excess of platelets gives the blood qualities such as additional growth factors and cytokines, which assist the body in healing and regenerating soft tissue that has been damaged through use. With this extra boost in healing, the body can recover from injuries more quickly than it might on its own.
How Does PRP Therapy Work?
Instead of targeting the injury itself, platelet-rich plasma therapy focuses on assisting the body’s general healing mechanisms. A body that regenerates soft tissue more efficiently will recover from many types of injuries more successfully, with fewer long-term effects and less recovery time. The results of the individual patient depend on the extent of the injury and the extent to which the body utilizes the extra platelets for regeneration purposes. In general, the therapy should work by supporting the healing mechanisms that are already at work.
Sports Injuries and Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy
This type of therapy is promising in the case of sports injuries where the patient might have injured tendons, ligaments, muscles and even bone. More importantly, the success of the therapy is not necessarily contingent on the area of the body where the injury occurs, because the therapy is body-wide. The therapy should be conducted alongside other supportive treatment, including immobilization or bracing where appropriate. It is not necessarily a solution for injuries that require immediate attention, as the therapy’s increased healing process should take place over time.
Repetitive Strain Injuries and PRP Therapy
Repetitive strain injuries such as carpel tunnel syndrome and arthritis may experience some relief from platelet-rich plasma therapy. In this case, the therapy helps provide relief to inflamed tissue that is continually aggravated from repetitive actions such as typing. If the syndrome or ailment is severe, the affected joints should be immobilized or supported during healing to prevent further aggravation or inflammation. In some cases, the therapy will be ineffective, particularly if the syndrome is caused by an autoimmune disorder. This is because the therapy promotes healing, and autoimmune disorders target the body’s own tissue, making healing difficult because the source of damage is never entirely removed.
Like any therapy, patients and their doctors should consider platelet-rich plasma therapy in the context of their individual situations. The therapy may be more or less useful depending on the extent of the damage from the injury. In some cases, a more immediate therapy may be appropriate. In other cases, platelet-rich plasma therapy may be perfectly appropriate and even more effective than alternative treatments. In every case, you should discuss your options with your doctor before formulating a plan for therapy.