The field of Regenerative Medicine is expanding rapidly, and one of the newer technologies to come from this area of medicine is platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy. It has been used for over a decade in orthopedic applications, and is what Kobe Bryant is using to treat injuries to his right knee, and what Peyton Manning used to help heal his neck injury prior to his record-breaking season as a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL). In the field of hair restoration, its use has seen a dramatic increase in the past two years as hair restoration surgeons have discovered the positive benefits of this form of regenerative medicine. Platelets are small disk shaped cells within your blood that are rich with high concentrations of several growth factors, proteins and cytokines. The platelets can be thought of the “quarterbacks” of the healing processes in your body; they significantly encourage healing response, and they play a vital role by releasing the growth factors. PRP is a consolidation of these growth factors and many proteins that collectively stimulate repair and regeneration of your body.
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a rapidly emerging technique that is showing exciting potential with osteoarthritis of the knee, shoulder, hip and spine. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative bone disease causing loss of mobility, chronic pain and stiffness and can be quite debilitating for more than 21 million Americans. PRP Therapy is also showing promising results in rotator cuff tears, chronic plantar fasciitis, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, tennis elbow, ankle sprains, tendonitis, and ligament sprains.
A main benefit of PRP Therapy is that it provides pain relief and healing and can eliminate the need for surgery and prolonged recovery. It may also be used as a treatment for some people that are not candidates for surgery. PRP Therapy is a low-risk non-invasive procedure. It uses the body’s own cells and natural biological healing process. The concentrated platelet rich plasma (PRP) that is injected into and around the point of injury jump-starts and significantly strengthens the body’s natural healing process. Recovery with PRP therapy is much faster than with surgery, often by many months. Because your own blood is used, there is no risk of a transmissible infection and a very low risk of allergic reaction.
The goal of PRP therapy is to resolve pain through healing and could prove to have lasting results. Initial improvement may be seen within a few weeks, gradually increasing as the healing progresses. Research studies have shown PRP therapy to be effective at relieving pain and returning patients to their normal activities and daily lives. Both ultrasound and MRI images have shown definitive tissue repair after PRP therapy, confirming the healing process. The need for surgery can also be greatly reduced by treating injured tissues before the damage progresses and the condition is irreversible.
Although PRP Therapy is relatively new to the field of orthopedics, it has been used for more than 20 years in dentistry. PRP Therapy has been used to promote healing following jaw reconstruction for patients with cancer. Its use has expanded to other medical specialties, including cardiovascular surgery, sports medicine, urology, cosmetic surgery, dentistry, and ophthalmology. These studies show that recovery time is quicker and the risks are lower with PRP Therapy. Researchers are now focused on its use in musculoskeletal injuries.
In the field of orthopedics, PRP Therapy has been studied for use in the joints, spine, bone, and tendons. Because the studies have used a small number of participants, larger studies are necessary before the results can be generalized. Researchers are optimistic that after future studies, insurance will cover the procedure, and speculate that the procedure may become a protocol before surgical treatment.