Understanding How PRP Therapy Can Help
There’s a good chance you’ve heard about PRP already. PRP – an advanced prolotherapy of platelet-rich plasma injections – made international headlines back in 2009 when Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu opened up about using the treatment to recover from injuries before they won the Super Bowl. Soon newspapers everywhere were getting other major league and even recreational players to talk about using the treatment, fueling its popularity as an alternative to surgery, alongside speculation that further research could help end some of the most stubborn athletes’ injuries, like tennis elbow and tendonitis.
Like normal prolotherapy, PRP involves an injection to an injured part of the body. Instead of dextrose or another simple solution, though, PRP therapy uses an injection of a patient’s own blood, drawn and then concentrated through a centrifugal process, to isolate the platelets that release powerful proteins involved in the body’s healing and growth processes. These growth-encouraging substances are called growth factors. Rarely do these commonly injured parts of the body come into contact with such high concentrations of growth factors. Like prolotherapy, PRP can stimulate growth in ligaments and tendons, but unlike prolotherapy, it can even stimulate growth in bones.
One of the most obvious advantages of PRP over regular prolotherapy is that the patient doesn’t need as many treatments. Regular prolotherapy encourages the body to stimulate growth; PRP delivers those growth factor-carrying cells directly to the injured area. Other benefits of PRP include:
- Little chance of rejection or allergic reaction because the platelets come from the patient’s own body.
- Low chance of infection.
- No scarring, unlike surgery.
- The injection procedure takes only about 20 minutes.
There are needles involved. However, that is the only pain you will experience. Some patients report feeling some mild discomfort only when the needle punctures their skin. Others say it hurts as much as any old injection or shot does. It varies from person to person. So I can safely say that any pain associated with PRP falls within the mild to medium range.
Some others barely feel anything. Like regular prolotherapy, you only have to fear the needle – and even that shouldn’t be so scary with a local anaesthetic and an experienced prolotherapist administering the procedure. An injection of pure PRP will hurt, but an admixture of PRP and a small amount of a non-toxic anaesthetic can make the procedure much more comfortable. The only other difference is that PRP requires the initial drawing of blood.
- Patients report mild to medium pain associated with PRP which is restricted to when the needles puncture their skin.
- Pain ranges from mild to medium, but never exceeds that.
All our bodies heal and repair themselves differently and at different rates. Typically, if you have a healthy and active lifestyle, your healing time will likely be less than somebody who makes poor lifestyle choices. Along with your lifestyle choices, other factors that affect healing time are the age of the patient and the extent of the injury.
Like all types of prolotherapy, the amount of time it will take for a patient to see results varies by the location and extent of the injury and by the health of the patient. It would take between two to four weeks to regenerate tissue, compared to four to six weeks of recovery time after a surgery – one reason why major league sports managers have been so keen for their athletes to try this.
- Healing time varies from person to person.
- Healing time depends on general health and lifestyle, age and extent of injury.
3. Is PRP More Expensive Than Regular Prolotherapy?
Yes. The machines required to separate platelet concentrations from a patient’s whole blood are expensive. Depending on health insurance, these costs could be translated to the patient. Still, PRP injection therapy is much cheaper than surgery. With greater public awareness and clinical research, health insurance providers may change their policies regarding PRP, making the procedure available to more patients.
- Yes, PRP is more expensive than regular therapy, but it is far less expensive than surgery.
- Because it heals you completely and restores your health, PRP is an investment and not an expense.
If you or a loved one is suffering from pain needlessly, please contact the specialized team of prolotherapy specialists at RES Physical and Medicine to put your injuries behind you and be well on your way to recovery.