What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)?
To understand platelet-rich plasma treatments, it’s helpful to start with the unique makeup of each person’s blood and the role of platelet-rich plasma in the body. Blood contains four elements:
- White blood cells
- Red blood cells
Plasma is the liquid portion (water and a combination of proteins) that helps your blood cells circulate. Platelets are a type of blood cell (a thrombocyte) that contains growth factors to stimulate tissue regeneration and new cell production, vital functions for clotting and healing.
Platelet-rich plasma involves blood cells full of healing, tissue-regenerating platelets. PRP doesn't occur on its own—the body creates it by isolating elements from the blood. Essentially, it’s how the body creates its own natural healing solution, which is why medical professionals are now using the PRP to treat a wide variety of concerns.
What happens during PRP treatments?
- The specialist takes a small blood sample.
- The centrifuge’s rapid spinning motion separates the plasma and platelets from the white and red blood cells.
- The specialist then takes the platelet-rich plasma into a syringe.
PRP looks like a liquid solution and contains two to eight times more platelets than normal blood samples. Connecticut Pain Solutions uses these platelet-rich plasma injections to address chronic pain, sports injuries, and much more. Since these injections provide healing properties with the person’s own blood, they boost natural recovery and can relieve many symptoms.
Does it work? Is it safe? Read on to learn more about the effects of PRP injections.
What Is a PRP Injection?
A PRP injection is a minimally invasive treatment that uses your body's own platelet-rich plasma to initiate a healing response in specific areas of concern. Clinicians use PRP as an alternative to pain medications or even surgical procedures. It's all-natural and uses this regenerative action to heal your body from the inside out, so many people prefer to go this route if they can.
PRP injections present a number of benefits, including the following:
- Reduced inflammation
- Stronger defense against infection
- Renewed cellular growth where there were dead or damaged cells
- Optimal healing after a surgical procedure or injury
If you’re attending a PRP session at Connecticut Pain Solutions, Dr. Turok will derive the platelet-rich plasma from a sample of your blood. Ultra-fine needles administer PRP into the treatment areas where you need it. In some cases, we'll also use ultrasound technology during the injection process to direct the beneficial platelet-rich plasma to exactly the right spot.
When injected into soft tissue, PRP increases the concentration of bioproteins and hormones in the area (the growth factors). Each PRP injection releases growth factors, which accelerate healing and encourage new cell production in the area of concern. There is no recovery or downtime required, though some mild bruising around the injection site is normal.
Overall, the regenerative effects of platelet-rich plasma injections are wide-ranging in sports medicine, pain management, and even cosmetic treatments. Connecticut Pain Solutions provides PRP injections for everything from muscle injuries to sexual dysfunction remedies.
What Is PRP Treatment Used For?
Unsurprisingly, the healing capabilities of platelet-rich plasma therapy find use across various medical and aesthetic purposes. At Connecticut Pain Solutions, Dr. Turok and the team frequently use PRP injections for musculoskeletal issues and complexion concerns.
Tendon, Ligament, Muscle, and Joint Injuries
One of the most notable uses for PRP therapy lies in modern sports medicine. Strenuous exercise, contact sports, and intense physical fitness often lead to injuries. Tendon, muscle, ligament, and joint trauma are top concerns that PRP can address.
Athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and hobbyists alike know the pain that comes with injuries or conditions like Tennis Elbow. These issues are usually slow to heal, causing ongoing pain and limited range of motion. Injecting PRP into the injured area stimulates the healing process, which can quicken recovery and reduce painful symptoms.
Soft tissue injuries, like rotator cuff and Achilles tendon tears, also show improvement with PRP treatments. Typically, healing may involve a series of PRP injections spaced several weeks apart. With ongoing PRP shots, people often see enhanced function and a decrease in inflammation.
Jumper's knee is another common condition where PRP treatment showcases its benefits. PRP treatment for knee injuries helps the knee tendons, restoring mobility and alleviating aches.
Have you ever had surgery on a bone, muscle, or tendon that took forever to heal? PRP treatments also provide benefits for general wound healing after surgery. These tissues are prone to longer healing times, so PRP injections offer a viable solution.
Sometimes, incisions leave prominent scarring, especially if there's an infection present at any point. Injecting platelet-rich plasma into the surrounding tissues enhances cell renewal in the area, which may reduce the risk of scarring and ward off infection. So, when complementing surgical aftercare, PRP shots promote faster strengthening as the body uses its own healing resources.
When it comes to plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures like facelifts or hair transplants, PRP injections do the same for the healing process. Using platelet-rich plasma to target the areas that are healing after these surgical procedures also decreases the body’s inflammatory responses to relieve pain. An added benefit of this targeted pain relief is the reduced need for anti-inflammatory drugs or opioids after surgery, with many people stopping medications as PRP therapy kicks off.
Underlying conditions also improve with the use of PRP therapy, including the degenerative condition called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis leads to ongoing tissue deterioration in the joints, causing chronic pain and inflammation as joints and bones rub together more.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Katz of Harvard Medical School, PRP injections can reduce the joint inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, which is why it’s such a popular treatment for pain. If you’re looking for a natural alternative to prescription painkillers, PRP for arthritis could work.
For example, Connect Pain Solutions offers PRP injection shoulder treatment for pain and stiffness due to arthritis in the shoulder joint. The same platelet-rich plasma therapy can also address the discomfort and inflammation from arthritis in other areas, like the knees. PRP hip injection treatments help people feel less pain with movement, increasing their mobility and ability to lead an active lifestyle.
Those treated with PRP shots also report better results than with hyaluronic acid injections. The results of PRP therapy last longer than hyaluronic acid alone, but the two therapies used together see the most pronounced results.
Of course, the benefits of platelet-rich plasma extend past medical concerns, having made a major impact in the cosmetic field in recent years. For example, aesthetic specialists are now using PRP treatment for skin rejuvenation and hair loss solutions. Connecticut Pain Solutions also offers microneedling with PRP injections.
Microneedling is a cosmetic procedure that uses tiny needles to make microscopic punctures in the skin. These punctures stimulate a healing response that resolves wrinkles and more. When combined with the benefits of platelet-rich plasma, microneedling produces a significant transformative effect.
After completing the microneedling process, we take a small blood sample to create PRP and start the regenerative effects in the dermis. Connecticut Pain Solutions typically recommends platelet-rich plasma PRP treatments for the following:
- Acne scarring
- Minor fine lines (crow's feet, marionette lines)
- Enlarged pores
PRP treatment for face enhancement is a popular all-natural approach that patients prefer to alternatives that are more extensive, such as chemical peels or plastic surgery. When injected into the scalp for hair restoration, PRP treatment hair injections also stimulate a follicular response that kick-starts new growth wherever there’s hair loss.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy for Spinal Conditions
Are you suffering from chronic back pain and haven't found a helpful treatment? You could benefit from a PRP spine injection. Connecticut Pain Solutions uses platelet-rich plasma therapy to treat several spinal conditions.
PRP Therapy for Back Pain
PRP therapy for back pain can help treat several common issues, including:
- Chronic back pain: Chronic back pain is a general term for back pain that lasts more than a few weeks and doesn't improve with rest. While non-spinal conditions can cause chronic back pain, many cases result from the other conditions in this list.
- Bulging discs: The discs in your spine act as cushions that prevent the vertebrae in your back from rubbing together. Over time, the discs dry out, causing their outer layer to bulge. Less serious than a herniation, bulging discs don't always result in pain.
- Spondylosis: This predominantly age-related condition arises when small cracks form between two bones in your spine. Though it can occur anywhere in your spine, spondylosis most often happens in your lower back because it's the part of the spine that experiences the most consistent pressure. According to one study, about 5% of people experience the condition at some point in their life.
- Facet joint pain: Located at the back of your spine, facet joints make your back flexible. Sacroiliac joint pain and facet joint pain in the back can radiate to the rest of your body and make mobility more difficult.
- Enthesopathy: Enthesopathy is a general term for any condition affecting soft tissue like a tendon or ligament. Cervical or lumbar facet enthesopathy produces stiffness in your back and makes bending over or twisting painful.
PRP Therapy Effectiveness
Therapy using a PRP spine injection has a documented history of effectively treating spinal conditions in many patients. Connecticut Pain Solutions uses PRP for spinal injections that, after a few treatments, give patients a good chance of long-lasting pain relief.
In one study conducted by Dr. Rohan Bhatia, patients received epidural injections of PRP for their bulging discs. The study showed that patients experienced improvements in their pain and mobility for at least three months and without any complications.
While no treatment is 100% effective or works for every patient, Connecticut Pain Solutions remains dedicated to finding a treatment that reduces your chronic back pain and increases your quality of life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to the most common questions about a PRP back injection, the conditions it treats, and its effectiveness.
Is PRP Good for the Spine?
A PRP injection can help treat different types of back pain without causing further damage. According to one study by the Darrow Stem Cell Institute, patients reported an average 54% improvement in their pain.
How Long Do PRP Spine Injections Last?
PRP spine injections can last between six months and a year. In some patients, the therapy lasts longer.
Does PRP Work for a Herniated Disc?
A PRP spine injection can address symptoms of a herniated disc and degenerative disc disease because of the plasma growth factors concentrated in the injection.
PRP Therapy Risks and Side Effects
PRP treatment comes with its own risks and side effects that you should discuss with your care provider before your session. For example, after a PRP session, some people experience soreness or bruising around the injection site, which subsides within several days.
Since the PRP session involves drawing blood, we also recommend arriving at the appointment well-hydrated. However, the blood sample is small, and most patients do not experience any issues during the treatment period. Be sure to let the team know if you’re feeling lightheaded at any point during the process.
Overall, the separation and administration of platelet-rich plasma in targeted areas of the body is a low-risk procedure. Still, rare complications may include the following:
- Bleeding around the injection site
- Injuries to nearby nerves
- Tissue damage
- Infections at the injection site
However, since PRP therapy uses the person’s own blood, there is little to no risk of an allergic reaction (common with alternative treatments, like corticosteroid injections). Reducing the risk of adverse effects also relies on proper administration, so it’s best to only use highly trained professionals for more successful outcomes.
Dr. Turok and team are well-versed in platelet-rich plasma, using this treatment in both medical and cosmetic services. To learn more about PRP treatments, contact Connecticut Pain Solutions at 203-626-9080 today for appointments in Wallingford and Ridgefield, CT.