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How Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy Can Treat Musculoskeletal Injuries

Synthesizing a concoction of cells found naturally in our own bodies and concentrating them to treat ourselves sounds like something on the order of living on the moon or driving a hovercraft to work, huh? Well, welcome to the future. Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but it is an innovative treatment that practitioners have been refining since the 1990s. And because of its incredibly low risk and rapidly declining cost, the popularity of the technique to treat a range of injuries is increasing.

What is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy?

Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy is a non-surgical treatment that is an effective approach to managing a wide range of musculoskeletal disorders by promoting the body’s natural healing process. The treatment consists of a series of injections (often as few as 2) that contain plasma, platelets, growth factors and cytokines. These are derived from your own blood, which makes the treatment particularly safe—potential side effects are exceedingly limited. Prior to beginning treatment, blood will be drawn which will then be separated out into the parts needed and treated to make the Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy mixture, each ingredient being chosen for its contribution to healing and regenerative properties. Then, the Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy injection will be delivered directly to the site of the injury in question so that the concoction can go to work directly. Think of it as an extremely concentrated (more effective and quicker) version of the way your body would heal an injury itself if left to its own devices. You are just giving yourself a biological boost and the results are generally long lasting (provided patients follow all the instructions of their health practitioner prior to and after treatment). The treatment’s safety, efficiency, and convenience are probably a large part of why the treatment is so popular with famous athletes like Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant.

Which Injuries has Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy shown to be effective treating?

Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy is an effective approach to treating a variety of conditions like osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, shoulder hip and spine injuries, in addition to tears in the rotator cuff, ACL injuries, ligament sprains, ankle sprains, back and neck injuries, pelvic pain, tennis elbow, plantar fasciopathy, patellar tendinopathy (chronic jumper’s knee) and other conditions, particularly muscle and tendon injuries. To find out whether or not Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy is a viable option for treating a musculoskeletal disorder you may be suffering from, you will need to have a direct conversation with a qualified health practitioner. In addition to the range of soft tissue injuries, Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy is known to effectively treat, the success of the approach will also depend on your individual health history, the severity of your injury and other factors. As mentioned earlier, professional golfer Tiger Woods is known to have had a series of 4 Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy injections to help aid his recovery following a knee surgery on his injured ACL.

How Does Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy Work?

Our blood is composed of 93 percent red blood cells, 6 percent white blood cells, 1 percent platelets, and plasma. While platelets are best known for their blood clotting capabilities, their role in promoting healing of soft tissue injuries and wounds goes far beyond stopping the bleeding. By taking a sample of a patient’s blood and using a centrifuge (a machine that separates the respective elements of the sample by spinning it around at high speeds), the platelets and plasma can be separated from the other blood cells, leaving a highly concentrated sample of the platelets. The growth factors contained in the platelets help initiate the healing process and attract useful cells like stem cells to the area to further aid the healing process. Patients receiving treatment via Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy generally begin to see and feel improvement in their condition around 4 to 6 weeks following their initial injection. The long-term success of the treatment is highly dependent on the steps taken after the fact. If your health practitioner recommends avoiding certain activity or taking part in a physical therapy regimen, it is best to heed their advice to make sure that the area that has been treated is not injured again.

Learn More About Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy

If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy, be sure to check out the recent infographic we put together covering the treatment. Then, be sure to call or email to speak with a provider at one of our Arrowhead Health Centers located throughout the Valley to discuss whether or not you might be a candidate for the procedure, or if you might be better served by one of our many other non-surgical treatment options.
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