Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has the potential to make nearly any injury heal faster. But it's not appropriate for every wound, and PRP injections aren’t the first line of treatment.
Medical director Patty Beecroft, MD, and our team at iMed Regeneration Center consider PRP under certain circumstances and for specific types of injuries. Here’s what you should know about PRP and the injuries we frequently treat with advanced regenerative medicine.
Your blood contains small cells called platelets. Like red and white blood cells, platelets are produced in the bone marrow and travel through your bloodstream.
When you’re injured, platelets travel to the damaged tissues and release proteins called growth factors. These growth factors communicate with the surrounding cells and trigger healing activities.
In addition to starting the healing response, growth factors:
We produce PRP by taking a sample of your blood and processing it to separate the platelets from other blood cells. Then we inject concentrated platelets along with a little plasma (the fluid part of your blood) directly into the injured tissues.
PRP is especially beneficial when:
Since platelets travel through your bloodstream, your body can’t properly heal when the injured tissues don’t get enough blood.
A severe injury can quickly overwhelm the immediate supply of platelets. As a result, the healing response slows down while your body produces new platelets.
Aging can derail the healing process in many ways. For example, your immune response, inflammatory response, cell division, and cellular communication all slow down as you get older. These changes, along with underlying health conditions such as hardened arteries and diabetes, diminish your body’s healing response.
No matter what type of injury you sustain, your treatment seldom begins with PRP. Instead, we may recommend PRP when conservative therapies such as physical therapy don’t provide enough relief.
But when healing needs a boost, we often treat these three injuries with PRP injections:
One of the most common uses of PRP is treating tendinitis and tendon injuries. Tendinitis refers to an inflamed tendon. You probably know tendinitis by some of its more common names: tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, pitcher’s shoulder, and jumper’s knees.
Tendon injuries range from a slight tear to a complete rupture. An Achilles tendon tear is one of the most common injuries. When you have a torn rotator cuff, the tear nearly always occurs in a tendon.
These problems usually develop as repetitive movements wear down the tendons. Tendinitis and tendon injuries are notoriously hard to heal because they have a limited blood supply.
The meniscus consists of two C-shaped pieces of cartilage that protect the top of each shinbone inside your knee joints. A torn meniscus typically occurs when you forcefully twist your knee.
If your injury happens to occur in the outer third of the meniscus, it has a better chance of healing. This portion of the cartilage, called the red zone, has a good blood supply.
But the inner two-thirds of the meniscus, called the white zone, don’t get much blood. Meniscus tears in the white zone seldom heal without help and often end up needing surgery. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may be able to avoid surgery with PRP injections.
Ligaments support and stabilize your joints. Whether you suffer a pulled, partially torn, or ruptured ligament, the injury takes you out of action. The severity determines whether you’re on the sidelines for weeks or months. And if the ligament doesn’t heal properly, you face the risk of developing chronic joint instability.
Some of the most common ligament injuries occur in your knees, ankles, back, neck, shoulders, and thumbs. In any joint, PRP enhances healing and helps the ligament return to optimum strength.
If you have any questions about PRP or want to learn if you’re a good candidate for this treatment, call our Colorado Springs, Colorado, center today or book an appointment using our online scheduling tool.