Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is everywhere in the news and in health care these days. Though PRP first came into the public’s consciousness because superstar athletes like Tiger Woods turned to it to accelerate healing, it’s now being used for everything from skin rejuvenation to boosting libido.
Our expert rheumatologists at Rheumatology Center of New Jersey offer PRP, too. You may be wondering if PRP is the right therapy to help you heal from arthritis, sports injuries, and more. Following are a few common questions and answers to help you decide.
How are you with needles?
Both preparation and administration of PRP requires that you’re comfortable around syringes. We make the PRP serum by withdrawing a small amount of your blood from your arm — about 2-4 tablespoons. That’s about as much as a blood test, but not nearly as much as a blood donation.
A quick spin in a special centrifuge separates the plasma (the liquid portion of your blood) from the platelets. Your platelets are tiny fragments of cells that look like, well, plates. Platelets are small, but they’re packed with powerful ingredients — including healing proteins and growth factors — that help your body close up wounds and rebuild injured tissues.
Once the serum is ready (in about 15 minutes), we inject it directly into your damaged cartilage, tendon, or other tissue. At Rheumatology Center of New Jersey, we recommend PRP to treat a variety of injuries and conditions, including:
- Sprains and strains
- Joint injuries
- Blood clotting at injury sites
Platelet-rich plasma injections also help accelerate healing and tissue repair after surgery. You may need multiple injections during one treatment session if you have a lot of damage. Most of the time, you need a series of PRP treatments over a period of several months to fully heal.
Do you like the idea of reducing or eliminating drugs?
The biggest difference between PRP therapy and medications that control pain from arthritis and other joint injuries is that medications address symptoms while PRP addresses the cause. If you’re in pain from a swollen tendon or arthritis, a painkiller stops the pain signals from reaching your brain so you don’t experience it. But PRP repairs the injury that’s causing the pain.
Due to the high concentration of platelets, the PRP serum has around 10 times the healing power of normal blood. Though you may initially experience a little pain and swelling after your injections, your body uses the growth factors and proteins in PRP to create new strands of collagen, elastin, and other proteins it needs to rebuild your tissues.
As your cartilage begins to rebuild itself (or your tendon or your ligament), it becomes stronger and healthier. Because it’s no longer damaged, it doesn’t send out pain signals anymore.
Do you want to feel like yourself again?
By providing extra growth factors through PRP, the injections accelerate the production of new tissue cells. Your joints and surrounding tissues are younger than they were before your PRP therapy.
Once your injuries have healed, your joints perform more like they did when you were younger. You might be able to cut back on medications or even eliminate them entirely. Depending on your original injury, we may recommend physical therapy in addition to PRP to help build strength in your repaired and rejuvenated tissues.
Does PRP sound like the right therapy for you? Give us a call today at the location nearest you, or use our handy online contact form. We have offices in Somerville, Flemington, and Monroe, New Jersey, and we’re offering telemedicine appointments during the pandemic.