PRP for Joint Pain Treatment

Are you suffering from pain in your joints caused by osteoarthritis? 

A growing number of people are turning to PRP therapy to treat an expanding list of orthopaedic conditions, including osteoarthritis. It is most commonly used for knee osteoarthritis, but may be used on other joints as well.

Platelet-rich plasma therapy, also known as PRP therapy or autologous conditioned plasma (ACP) therapy, attempts to take advantage of the blood’s natural healing properties to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles, or even bone.

When treating osteoarthritis with platelet-rich plasma, a doctor injects PRP directly into the affected joint. The goal is to:

  • Reduce pain
  • Improve joint function
  • Possibly slow, halt, or even repair damage to cartilage

What is Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) and how is it processed? 

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a natural product and treatment created from your own body. It purports to rejuvenate the skin by injecting your own blood plasma under your dermis, to stimulate cell growth and collagen production. And it’s become quite a sought-after non-surgical procedure for medical or cosmetic treatment. 

  • Most of our blood is made up of plasma but it also contains many rich components including red and white blood cells and platelets.
  • Platelets help our blood to clot, and they also contain countless proteins called growth factors which are key to helping injuries heal.
  • The key to the PRP treatment is to harness the platelets in the blood by drawing a blood sample and then process it using a centrifuge to separate the platelet-rich plasma from the other parts of the blood. 
  • Once we have this plasma with concentrated platelets (hence the name, platelet-rich plasma), it can be re-injected into your joint or skin skin for several forms of treatment.

The black circle indicates a cluster of platelets. PRP is defined as small volume of plasma with a significant platelet concentration

Centrifuge – External View

Centrifuge – Internal View

What can Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treat?

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) has generally been used in two main areas: 

  1. Medical Treatment:
    • Arthritis in joints – knees, elbows, fingers etc
    • Injuries caused by intensive sports such as ski/snowboarding, basketball etc –  sprained knees, tendonitis
  2. Cosmetic Treatment:
    • Improve skin condition and promote skin rejuvenation.
    • In case you weren’t aware, PRP can also be used to promote new hair growth!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How is PRP therapy performed?

PRP involves taking blood from a vein in the arm and placing it into a special centrifuge. The platelets-rich plasma are extracted and then injected into the injured or painful area. The PRP injection stimulates growth and repair of damaged cells. Over the course of a few weeks, healing will take place and patients often report improved conditions ranging from reduction in pain, increased mobility, and improved quality of life. 

What conditions can be treated with PRP?

Although it is often used to treat knee pain. PRP can also be used to treat

  • shoulder pain
  • neck and back pain
  • golfers elbow
  • tennis elbow
  • ankle pain
  • rotator cuff injuries
  • achilles tendonitis
  • hip bursitis

Is this the same as a cortisone injection?

No. Cortisone injections are a synthetic corticosteroid that are injected in the joints or areas of soft tissue to reduce pain and inflammation. Although cortisone injections in limited amounts may be ease patient’s condition, they do not however change the underlying issue (disease condition). Cortisone injections offer no potential in cell growth and repair, and therefore often have to be repeated over and over again. Also, there are many documented risks of having “too much cortisone” and suppression of the immune system that need to be made aware of when considering cortisone injections as a treatment option. 

PRP involves using the patient’s own blood which contain natural growth factors that promote re-generative of tissue and decreased inflammation. PRP is aimed at being a curative treatment, whereas cortisone is not. PRP also does not carry the same side effects as cortisone. Any excess PRP can be absorbed by the body without causing severe side effects to patient’s health. 

Am I suitable for for PRP?

A consultation is required before any treatment may take place. The consultation includes a comprehensive review of your reported issue, medical history and a thorough examination will be conducted if required. Once the cause of the issue and diagnosis are established, our physician will discuss treatment options with you and advise if you are a suitable candidate for PRP. Often PRP is just one element of a comprehensive treatment program, our physician may also recommend combining other treatment options such as physio or seeing a specialist for assessment on surgical options if considered to be the appropriate next course of action. 

Is PRP painful?

While everyone’s pain tolerance level varies, patients have reported a range of discomfort from mild to moderate with PRP injections. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in the arm initially and then smaller needles are used to perform the actual injection(s).

How many injections will I need?

This could vary from one person to another. Typically 1 to 3 injections. Much of this depends on the chronicity and location of patient’s problem. Some patients can successfully be treated with one injection while others require multiple injections over a period of time to eliminate or reduce pain to an acceptable level.

How long does PRP take to perform?

Depending on the number of areas being treated, most procedures can be completed in 30 – 45 minutes.

How do I know if PRP has helped me?

If PRP has helped you, you will start noticing a difference in your overall pain level and function. Some patients may see an increase in overall pain levels initially, but as the healing process occurs, symptoms are expected to resolve gradually over the course of 4 to 6 weeks on average. Some factors that could affect the healing speed could be patient’s overall level of health, age, diet, and activity levels. And for some patients, repeat treatments may be needed.

How long does the effect from PRP last?

This can be different for everyone. It depends on the underlying issue and whether there have been a recurrent injury to the affected area. It is impossible to predict if and when further treatments will be needed for a specific condition. It is not uncommon that patients return  months or years later for repeat PRP injections.

What are the possible side effects?

As with any injection, there is a small risk of infection, injury to blood vessels and risk of bleeding. There is also a small risk of injury to a tendon or ligament when PRP is being injected. Also, some patients may experience increased pain or discomfort for a temporary period following the treatment. Please discuss with our physician the suitability and timing of PRP injection especially if you have any sickness or fever before coming to the to the consultation. 

Can I be allergic to the solutions injected?

Although extremely rare, some patients may have an adverse reaction to their own serum. It is also possible to have a reaction to the substrate that is used.

What is the success rate of PRP?

The success rate of PRP therapy varies considerably. It depends on the condition being treated, health status of the patient, age, and treatment protocol. Success can also be highly subjective and dependent on the patient’s perception. Although success rates reported in the literature have been largely anecdotal, PRP success in the treatment of tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) has been reported in up to 80-90% in some studies, Achilles tendonitis 70-80% and golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) 60-70%.

What can I do after having PRP? Activity levels?

It is recommended that you drink plenty of fluids following your treatment. It is generally advisable to limit strenuous activity such as working-out for a certain period. You should also avoid the use of anti-inflammatory medications (Ex: Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc.) for at least 4 weeks. These medications inhibit the body’s ability to heal. It is important that you also attend follow-up visits in a timely fashion so that our physician can evaluate your progress. Skipping appointments or waiting too long may compromise the effect of future treatments. 

Your consultant at Star Beauty Cosmetic can provide all the details you need to make an informed decision about the procedure. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!

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