PRP injections are injections of platelet-rich plasma. Plasma is the thick portion of blood that contains several proteins that serve various roles.
Two of the main functions of plasma are to promote the blood’s ability to clot and to promote the production of new cells. Therefore, researchers developed a way to isolate and concentrate this plasma from the patient’s own blood.
This concentrated form of platelet-rich plasma can then be injected into a specific area to promote regeneration and healing in that area.
What Are They Used To Treat?
PRP injections are a relatively new treatment option that is still being researched, so it may have many uses beyond what is currently known. However, these injections have already been tested in a number of injuries and ailments. For example, many professional athletes have utilized PRP injections to help speed up the recovery time associated with certain common athletic injuries, such as Achilles tendonitis. However, the applicability of these injections seems to be much further reaching than just helping heal injuries.
These injections have been successfully tested as a treatment for alopecia and deterioration of the bones associated with osteoarthritis. The potential benefits are especially promising when it comes to healing spine and extremity pain. This is because the spine is a highly sensitive area to treat and many current treatment options carry significant risk. While these injections are still being researched, it seems that they are of very low risk because they use the patient’s own blood. This means that the patient is less likely to have an allergic reaction or reject the injection than if it were foreign medication or donor material.
How Do PRP Injections Work?
The process for platelet-rich plasma injections is relatively short. A technician will draw a sample of the patient’s blood. The amount of blood drawn will vary according to the injection site and injury. Then, the blood sample will be placed in a centrifuge, which is a common piece of lab equipment that spins specimens at high speeds. As the blood spins, the various components within it will separate out according to their density. This process usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. The lab technician will then be able to separate out the plasma and prepare it as an injection.
The physician will then sterilize the injection site and inject the concentrated plasma. Some injections will include a local anesthetic and some physicians may choose to apply a topical numbing agent to alleviate any discomfort caused by the injection. However, this procedure is not typically considered painful. Most patients are able to continue their daily activities as normal after receiving a PRP injection. This injection doesn’t typically produce immediate and drastic healing effects. Instead, they are designed to work with the body to heal an area faster than would be expected. Although the mechanisms through which these injections work are still being investigated, preliminary studies do show statistically significant improvements over placebos.