Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy at SMaRT Health & Wellness
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)?
Our blood is composed of a liquid component known as plasma, and three main solid components which include red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets. Platelets are crucial in forming blood clots and they contain special proteins, known as growth factors, which assist our body’s healing process.
Platelet-rich plasma or PRP is plasma that has a high concentration of platelets. A typical blood specimen contains only 6% platelets, while PRP contains 94% platelets and 5 to 10 times the concentration of growth factors found in regular blood, providing superior healing properties.
PRP can be divided into two categories based on the concentration of leukocytes (white blood cells):
Leukocyte-Rich PRP (LR-PRP):
Contains a higher concentration of leukocytes in addition to the platelets.
- Benefits: The leukocytes have antimicrobial properties which may help reduce the risk of infection and play a role in the removal of debris from an injury site.
- Downsides: The higher concentration of leukocytes, especially neutrophils, may lead to increased levels of catabolic and pro-inflammatory cytokines which could potentially impede the tissue healing process. This could also cause more pain and swelling after the injection.
- Indications: LR-PRP may be beneficial in cases where there’s a need for infection control or in the early stages of wound healing due to its antimicrobial properties and its role in debris cleanup. It is also the preferred solution for conditions such as rotator cuff tendonitis, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow and achilles tendonitis.
Leukocyte-Poor PRP (LP-PRP):
Contains a lower concentration of leukocytes but still a high concentration of platelets.
- Benefits: LP-PRP typically presents a more anabolic and less inflammatory profile compared to LR-PRP, potentially creating a more favorable environment for tissue regeneration and healing, with less pain and inflammation post-injection.
- Downsides: LP-PRP lacks the antimicrobial properties that come with a higher concentration of leukocytes.
- Indications: LP-PRP might be preferred in conditions like osteoarthritis, cartilage injuries, meniscus tears, or chronic injuries where the goal is to promote tissue regeneration without the potent inflammatory effects of leukocytes.
When is PRP Therapy Indicated?
PRP is a relatively new treatment method for several orthopedic conditions such as muscle, ligament, and tendon injuries; arthritis; and fractures. PRP injections can help alleviate painful symptoms, promote healing, and delay joint replacement surgeries.
The PRP Injection Procedure
The PRP therapy procedure involves drawing about 50-60cc’s of blood from the large vein in your elbow. This blood is then spun in a centrifuge machine for about 10 to 15 minutes to separate the platelets from the remaining blood components. The injured part of your body is then anesthetized with a local anesthetic. The platelet-rich portion of your blood is then injected into your affected area. In some cases, ultrasound guidance may be used to ensure proper needle placement.
Post-Procedure Care following PRP Injections
Following PRP injections, it is normal to feel some discomfort at the injection site for a few days. You should avoid applying cold compresses or ice for 3 days after the procedure. You will be instructed to stop any anti-inflammatory medications. While you can resume your normal activities, you should avoid any strenuous activities such as heavy lifting or exercises.
Risks and Complications of PRP Injections
The risks associated with PRP injections are very minimal but may include increased pain at the injection site, infection, damage to adjacent nerves or tissues, formation of scar tissue, and calcification at the injection site.
While PRP therapy has been used for various conditions, the evidence for its efficacy is still evolving and not yet fully established. Moreover, protocols for PRP preparation and application can vary, adding another layer of complexity to its use. As a medical professional, it is always advisable to stay updated with the latest research and guidelines for the best patient outcomes. At SMaRT Health & Wellness, we’re committed to providing the most up-to-date and effective treatments for our patients.