Blood plasma is the liquid component of blood that makes up about half of its total volume. Blood plasma that is rich in small cell fragments called platelets can be used to treat a number of musculoskeletal conditions. Platelets circulate in the blood of all mammals, and they stimulate the growth and healing of both bones and soft tissues. One of the major conditions treated by platelet-rich plasma therapy is osteoarthritis, a form of arthritis that involves the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. Platelet-rich plasma can also be used to heal tendon and ligament problems that result in knee pain, shoulder pain, and elbow pain. Many of these problems stem from the repetitive motions involved in certain sports, and athletes are increasingly using platelet-rich plasma therapy to treat tennis elbow and other sports injuries.
Details Of The Procedure
Platelet-rich plasma therapy takes about two hours from start to finish. Platelet-rich plasma is obtained by drawing blood from the patient and placing it in a centrifuge for about 15 minutes. The centrifuge spins at a high speed, separating the platelets from the other blood components. Once a layer of platelet-rich plasma is isolated, a syringe is used to inject it directly into the diseased tendon, ligament, or joint. The body responds by increasing its natural healing processes in the area. The blood that is injected typically has at least five times as many platelets as normal human blood. Some procedures consist of a single injection while others involve multiple treatments over an extended period of time.
Benefits Of Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy
Compared to cortisone injections and other methods of treating osteoarthritis and tendon injuries, platelet-rich plasma therapy has a low risk of complications. Because the injections actually heal the affected areas, the relief from osteoarthritis pain can last for an extended period of time. The treatment can also provide long-term relief from knee pain, elbow pain, and other pain caused by inflamed connective tissue. Improvements in these conditions are typically noticeable after a few weeks, and the pain relief gradually increases as the tissue is repaired.
While side effects of the procedure are relatively rare, there is always some risk of infection when a needle is inserted into the skin. The injection site may also bleed or bruise after the procedure. Patients who suffer from bleeding disorders or who take a medication that inhibits blood clotting should avoid platelet-rich plasma therapy. While any knee, elbow, or shoulder pain should eventually subside, some patients experience increased inflammation and pain after the injection. Patients should consult a caregiver if the pain lasts longer than 72 hours or so. If a patient is sensitive to the numbing medication applied to the treatment area, he or she may experience a mild allergic reaction.
Due to the fact that the plasma is drawn from the patient’s own body, there is almost no risk of rejection during the recovery period. Patients are typically instructed to avoid strenuous activity for a few days, although most can return to their jobs the next day. A physical therapy routine will most likely be prescribed to reduce pain and increase mobility.