When tendons and ligaments are damaged as a result of injury or overuse, small tears may develop as part of a condition known as tendinosis. Although these tissues are strong and help us engage in all kinds of physical activity when they are healthy, they do not heal well when damaged by a sprain or by overuse, since they have a poor blood supply.
Certain elements within the blood, specifically the platelets and growth factors, help tendons and ligaments heal by stimulating a repair and growth response that accelerates the process of developing new tissue. Unfortunately, the tendons and ligaments do not receive a rich supply of these valuable nutrients, which is why they often take a long time to heal and can cause patients severe pain within the knee, ankle, shoulder, wrist, bicep, calf and other areas.
What is platelet-rich plasma?
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is plasma with a high concentration of platelets, which contains a large amount of growth factor proteins. These proteins can initiate and accelerate new tissue growth within the tendons and ligaments to repair damage and relieve symptoms for patients with tendinosis or other causes of chronic pain.
Injecting platelet-rich plasma into the damaged tissue is an effective yet minimally invasive treatment option used to relieve pain and other symptoms caused by this damage. By enhancing the body’s natural healing abilities, patients are able to enjoy a faster and more thorough healing process that relieves symptoms and allows them to return to their regular activities.
What is platelet-rich plasma used for?
We use platelet-rich plasma injections to treat a wide range of orthopedic conditions, including:
- Joint pain
- Ligament sprains or tears
- Plantar fasciitis
How does this procedure work?
During the PRP injection procedure, a small amount of blood is taken from you and placed in a processing unit to separate the platelets, white blood cells and serum from the red blood cells. The platelet rich portion of the plasma is injected back into the area of need.
This procedure is performed under local anesthetic, which numbs the injection site to minimize pain for patients. Most patients tolerate the injection well and experience little to no discomfort from the injection. The entire procedure takes less then 20 minutes.
What can patients expect after the PRP procedure?
After platelet-rich plasma injections, patients may experience soreness and aching for several days, which is a sign that the healing process has begun. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may be taken if needed to help alleviate these symptoms. You can return to work and other normal activities immediately after treatment, but should avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity for a few days.
What are the benefits of this procedure?
For many patients, platelet-rich plasma injections offer significant relief from pain and other symptoms, and eliminate the need for surgery or long-term medications. This treatment also promotes the healing process and allows patients to return to their normal activities faster than with other nonsurgical treatments.
Are platelet-rich injections safe?
Since the PRP is produced from the patient’s own blood, there is very little risk for complications with this procedure. There is always a risk of infection with any type of injection, but most patients undergo this procedure with no problems.
If you are interested in learning more about platelet-rich plasma injections, please call us today to schedule an appointment.