The human body does many amazing things. Our bodies allow us to do all of our favorite activities, like playing sports, enjoying the outdoors, painting beautiful landscapes, hugging our loved ones, and so much more! However, one of the most amazing things our body does is heal itself when we get hurt.
In recent years, doctors have found a way to enhance this natural ability of ours by utilizing natural compounds already found in our bodies. There are several different kinds of treatments that do this, and they’re often called regenerative medicine. One such treatment uses injections of platelet-rich plasma or PRP injections. But what does that mean, and what do they do?
What Are Platelets, And What Is Plasma?
Platelets are the smallest of our blood cells, and they help our body form blood clots to stop bleeding after an injury. They’re shaped like small plates when “inactive,” but when responding to a damaged blood vessel, the platelets will travel to that area and transform into their “active” shape. When “active,” platelets grow long tentacle-like structures to help them grab onto each other and form a clot. While they do that, they send out chemical signals to gather more platelets and white blood cells. They also release growth factors to help with the healing process by triggering cell-reproduction and encouraging the reconstruction of damaged tissue.
Plasma, on the other hand, is the largest part of your blood. Plasma is largely made of water and proteins, and it allows blood cells (like platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells) to travel around, ensuring that your body gets the nutrients, hormones, and proteins it needs, where it needs it.
What Is A PRP Injection?
A platelet-rich plasma injection, then, is an injection that uses a person’s own platelets to speed up the healing process. To create platelet-rich plasma, a sample of blood is drawn from a patient and then run through a centrifuge, a machine that quickly spins the sample, causing the platelets to separate from other components in the blood and become concentrated within the plasma.
Once this process is finished, the platelet-rich plasma is injected into the same area as the patient’s injury, whether that be an injured ligament, muscle, tendon, or even broken bone. Because of the growth factors released by the platelets, this allows the patient’s body to heal more quickly using their own natural compounds. Plus, because the injection only includes substances from the patient’s own body, this kind of treatment is safe and low-risk.
What Are PRP Injections Used For?
PRP injections can be used to treat a variety of injuries and conditions that affect a person’s muscles and joints, like:
- Tendon injuries, e.g. tennis elbow, jumper’s knee, torn rotator cuffs, torn Achille’s heel, or any other strained or torn tendon.
- Ligament injuries, e.g. an ACL tear, sprained ankle, plantar fasciitis, or any other sprained or torn ligament.
- Muscle injuries, e.g. any pulled or torn muscle, which is most commonly seen in the lower back, neck, shoulder, and hamstring.
For example, a chronic tendon injury like a tennis elbow typically takes between 6 to 12 months to heal, but with the help of PRP injections, this healing time can be significantly reduced, allowing an athlete to suffer through less pain and get back to their normal activities sooner.
Would I Benefit From PRP Injections?
If you’re suffering from an injury that affects your ligaments, tendons, muscles, or bones, PRP injections may be right for you. PRP injections are a form of non-invasive regenerative medicine that can help you get back on your feet quicker than other treatments. Though PRP injections used to only be available to professional athletes and the very wealthy, they’re now more accessible than ever. If you think PRP injections may help relieve your pain and speed up your recovery, it’s time to contact Dr. Rytel.
Don’t wait for your pain to get worse. Schedule online or call (412)-661-5500 to schedule an appointment today with Rytel Sports Medicine, located in the Pittsburgh area.