Have you ever heard of platelet-rich plasma therapy? All over the world, people are continuing to forgo invasive surgery and are instead opting for this unique, alternative treatment method.
PRP therapy is a proven approach to helping a person’s body heal. Here, we’ll address several aspects of PRP therapy that you should know before scheduling a treatment:
1. What is PRP Therapy?
Understanding PRP therapy begins with understanding platelets.They are natural substances in a person’s blood along with red and white cells, and play a critical role in healing injuries.
The difference between PRP and natural platelets is that the former has a much higher concentration of plasma than what’s contained in the blood. Doctors administer these plasma-infused platelets into patients to help them heal muscles, ligaments and tendons, which are all soft tissues.
2. How is it administered?
To obtain PRP, a doctor first extracts a sample of blood from a patient, and then he or she places it in a centrifuge. From there, the device spins the blood quickly until it separates into red cells, white cells and platelets. The doctor sets aside the cells, and then injects platelets into the injured area. The number of injections will differ depending on the significance of the injury, and your doctor should inform you of this prior to receiving treatment. The entire PRP treatment process often takes as little as a half hour, but can extend up to an hour.
What if you’re having PRP therapy on your spine? Doctors will (and should) always use x-rays or ultrasound to help guide them. This prevents medical professionals from accidently damaging this sensitive area.
3. Who has undergone the treatment?
If you’re hesitant to undergo PRP therapy because you’ve never heard of it before, don’t be! Some of the world’s most famous athletes have turned to this alternative treatment method to heal serious soft tissue injuries.
Here is just a small list of star athletes who have undergone PRP:
- NFL players: Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Andre Johnson.
- MLB players: Mark Lowe, Cliff Lee, Alex Rodriguez, Matt Kemp, David Ortiz and Mark Teixeira.
- NBA players: Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Andre Iguodala and Brandon Roy.
As you can see, even those with millions of dollars on the line have ditched invasive and potentially risky surgery for a treatment that uses their body’s natural substances to heal damaged areas. This has often allowed them to get back on the field quicker while also reducing risk associated with surgery.
4. What kind of specific injuries does PRP heal?
PRP therapy is an extremely versatile method. We’ve compiled a short list of soft-tissue injuries the procedure does treat, but your doctor can tell you how PRP can specifically help you:
- Spinal stenosis.
- Tennis elbow.
- Ligament and muscle injuries.
- Medial collateral ligament tears (MCL).
- Achilles tendinitis.
- Acute and chronic tendon problems.
- Plantar fasciitis.
- Rotator cuff tears.
- Neck pains.
“When injected directly into the scalp, PRP therapy may be able to help those with androgenic alopecia.”
Along with treating these injuries, PRP is unique because it can help people in other ways, such as:
- Improve sexual drive in women: Women’s’ sexual drive can fall for many reasons, such as age or stress. When injected into the area of the urethral sphincter, PRP may be able to help increase their sexual drive. Also, a study published in Neurourology and Urodynamics found that when total nucleated cells were injected into the urethral sphincter, the procedure improved or cured patients of urinary incontinence sixth months after treatment.
- Treat female sexual dysfunction: Along with increasing the sexual drive in women, PRP may also be able to improve female sexual dysfunction, commonly known as FSD.
- Reverse hair loss: Baldness affects countless men and women, and most over-the-counter products do little to reverse hair loss. When injected directly into the scalp, PRP therapy may be able to help those with androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness.
- Improve the skin: PRP therapy isn’t just a medical procedure. It can actually improve the overall state of your skin, especially for people whose skin is bumpy, uneven or acne-scarred. A doctor takes a fine needle, and carefully injects PRP deep into the skin so it heals from within.
5. Are there complications with PRP treatment?
No medical procedure or process is completely safe – there’s always risks associated. Because PRP uses needles, there’s a very small chance of infection, nerve damage and some bleeding. However, PRP therapy is a very safe treatment method compared to surgery.
6. Can PRP fail?
Like surgery, PRP therapy may not succeed. This is something a patient’s doctor should make clear well before he or she undergoes the treatment.
Whether PRP succeeds or fails may come down to a few things, such as:
- The patient’s PRP levels: A patient’s typical platelet count ranges from 150,000 platelets per microliter to 450,000, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. If you have less than 150,000/ml, you have a condition called thrombocytopenia, and if your count is higher than 450,000 you condition called thrombocytosis.
- The platelet concentration levels: Typically platelet concentrations range from 2.5-3.0x baseline, noted Orthopedics This Week. For faster healing, a 4.5x baseline is required.
- Your treatment goals: Do you have a serious tear? Are you looking to correct baldness? Do you want to improve your skin? Everyone has different problems, and each must be addressed appropriately. Your doctor should absolutely set expectations before you sign on for PRP therapy. This will help you decide whether the therapy is right for you.
If you’d like more information about PRP therapy and how it might help you, contact Dr. Pearsall of Longevity & Stem Cell Centre. Dr. Pearsall will take the time to diagnose your condition and make recommendations. Remember, we encourage our patients to take the time to thoroughly understand the different alternatives medicines can schedule. During your meeting, Dr. Pearsall will also explain how PRP therapy works, and will make sure you’re provided with all the information you need to feel comfortable about undergoing the procedure.