You are an avid sports fan, then chances are you’ve heard about one or more of your favorite athletes receiving platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections to help speed their treatment after a significant injury. These injections are becoming an increasingly popular way to treat a wide range of sports injuries as well as other physical conditions. This might include things like minor tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee, rotator cuff tears, plantar fasciitis, and other connective tissue injuries. In some cases, PRP injections have even been used to help treat early symptoms of arthritis.
If you are dealing with an injury of this sort, you might be wondering if Platelet-Rich Plasma injections are right for you? To better understand PRP injections, their uses, and the treatment strategies they are commonly used in, we decided to take a closer look at some of the important details.
Conditions That Use PRP Injections Treatment
Some physicians will use PRP injections to help target specific types of injuries. Especially those that affect connective tissues. This includes some of the following conditions.
Tendon Injuries & Tendonitis
PRP injections are increasingly popular for treating a wide range of tendon injuries. Especially those that are related to repetitive movements, such as tears in the rotator cuff and tennis elbow. Injuries like these can often be slow and even difficult to heal. This is because of the repeated aggravation as well as the relatively low blood flow that slows the healing process.
In these cases, PRP injections help to better concentrate the healing platelet cells near the site of the tear in the connective tissues. This then helps them to regenerate more quickly. This type of treatment strategy, when combined with effective physical therapy can make significant improvements and accelerate the healing process in a lot of common repetitive sports injuries such as chronic rotator cuff problems, tendonitis, and even conditions like bursitis.
Muscle & Ligament Injuries
Ligaments are an important type of connective tissue that serves to connect structural components like cartilage and bone together. In this way, they play a critical role in a lot of major joints such as the knees and shoulders. Of course, this also means that they often experience a lot of wear and tear due to the active role these joints play in most people’s lives.
While athletic activities, increase the risk of ligament injuries, the wear and tear of everyday life can also lead to minor tears in critical ligaments. Especially with age or suffering an accidental fall.
Just like with tendons low blood floor and repetitive use can make ligament injuries slow to heal. Thankfully PRP injections can help deliver added platelets and other key healing factors to the targeted area. When combined with diligent physical therapy it can speed the healing process and help repair minor tears in ligaments as well as the surrounding muscle tissues.
Osteoarthritis Treatment With PRPs
Osteoarthritis is essentially a progressive chronic degenerative joint disease. A growing body of research and case studies has found that the progress of osteoarthritis can often be slowed down or even completely with PRP treatments.
In these cases, the targeted PRP injections are designed to reduce the chronic inflammation in the affected joints while also enabling increased lubrication. This in turn serves to decrease some of the pain caused by the degenerative joint disease. Used in this way, PRP injection can also be effective in addressing arthritis in major joints such as the knees, hip joints, and shoulders.
PRP Injections For Nerve Damage & Nerve Injuries
Nerves play an important role in providing information and feedback to the brain. They also help control muscles and important bodily functions. Nerve damage can cause numbness, weakness, and pain in a way that can severely hamper your quality of life, as well as affect your mobility.
An increasing number of physicians are employing PRP injections as part of an overall treatment strategy for a wide range of nerve injuries that affect the peripheral nervous system. This also includes conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The PRP injections have been found to help reduce pain while helping to regenerate nerve tissues, as well as restoring proper functions in the treatment area.
How Do PRP Injections Work?
Platelet-rich plasma injections use your own platelets to help accelerate the healing process in injured ligaments, muscles, tendons, and joints. In this way, they essentially use your body’s own innate healing system as a targeted way to address a wide range of musculoskeletal problems.
The injections are carefully prepared by first extracting a few tubes of your own blood. These tubs are then processed in a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets. These activated platelets are then injected directly into the injured or affected body tissue. This also helps to stimulate the growth factors that increase the number of reparative cells your own body produces.
Determining the injection site often calls for the use of special ultrasound imaging to pinpoint the exact area of treatment during the injections. This essentially helps the physician to guide the injection, ultrasound imaging is particularly helpful when injecting into the joint capsule in arthritis patients.
It’s important to note that some PRP injections might cause temporary inflammation, pain, and swelling near the injection site. Your physician might recommend that you take it easy for a few days to avoid putting strain on the connective tissues and muscles in the treatment area. They might also recommend wearing a brace or sling to protect or to completely immobilize the affected joint. Depending on how your body responds your physician might refer you for physical therapy after a week or two after the PRP treatment. This will help aid in your long-term healing and continued recovery.
PRP treatments are often part of a larger, comprehensive treatment strategy and are not considered a stand-alone treatment. They are often used in conjunction with other treatments such as cold or heat therapy, anti-inflammatory medication. Things like routine stretching exercises and rest from painful activities are often included in these treatment plans. It’s important to follow all of your physician’s recommendations following a PRP injection to maximize your results.