The liquid portion of blood called plasma has been used for several years to help patients facing life-threatening conditions such as immune deficiency disorders and organ transplantation. Because it has helped treat so many chronic and rare diseases, it has been referred to as “the gift of life.”[i]
More recently, physicians have discovered that a patient’s own plasma and its’ cells can help expedite the recovery from orthopedic injuries. Platelet rich plasma treatments, known as PRP, use the healing power of platelets to harness growth factors and other proteins that are essential for healing.
How Platelet Rich Plasma Treatment Works
Blood is comprised of red blood cells, white blood cells,platelets and plasma. The plasma contains hormones, electrolytes and nutrients that are needed to nourish cells during the healing process.
During platelet rich plasma treatment, the patient’s own blood is drawn and placed in a centrifuge machine where the platelets are separated and concentrated. This results in a PRP solution that contains up to 10 times more platelets than that typically found in blood.[ii] With its super-charged healing capabilities, platelet rich plasma can be used to treat a number of orthopedic conditions, including:
· Joint arthritis (knee, shoulder, hip, thumb or spine)
· Injured tendons like rotator cuff tendon, Tennis elbow and Achilles tendon
· Ligament sprains in the wrist, ankle or sacroiliac joints
· Carpal tunnel syndrome
· Degenerated discs, mild spinal stenosis and sciatica
Not All PRP Treatments Are the Same
When it comes to platelet rich plasma treatment, one size does not fit all. Several factors can influence the success rate of treatment:
· The patient must receive an accurate diagnosis.
· Image guidance with ultrasound or fluoroscopy (x-ray) for targeted delivery to the injured tissues is necessary.
· The PRP formulation must be customized to the specific injury being treated.
· The initial injury severity must be considered.
When administered appropriately and in the right formulation for the specific injury, most patients begin to experience results within four to eight weeks after platelet rich plasma treatment. About 10% of patients will feel relief within days.
PRP treatments are performed on an out-patient basis in the physician’s office. There is no need for hospitalization or lengthy rehabilitation. The entire procedure takes less than an hour and patients may typically resume normal activity within days.
Dr. Christopher Rogers of San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group performed one of the first PRP treatments in San Diego in 2009. He and Dr. Mary Ambach are experts in the field of regenerative therapy for orthopedic injuries. They have successfully treated thousands of patients with PRP and other orthobiologics.