Regenerative medicine is the process of using the bodies own healing ability to regenerate disease or damaged tissue. The process consists delivering medication or cells directly to the site of injury to accentuate the healing process.
Prolotherapy as defined as the injection of any substance that promote growth of normal cells, tissues, or organs. This can consist of injection of growth factors, medication that stimulate growth factors, or medications which activate the inflammatory cascade producing growth factors. Studies have shown that the injection of 10% or less of dextrose produces a non-inflammatory response however produces growth factors such as epidermal growth factor and connective tissue growth factor just to name a few. Injection of 12.5-25% of dextrose causes and inflammatory response which in turn causes a more vigorous growth response.
The bodies first response to an injury is to deliver platelets. Platelets are packed with hundreds of proteins called growth factors. These cells act on damaged tissue to help drive the recovery process. PRP or platelet rich plasma is the concentration of platelets, 10 times their normal concentration, to be delivered to a specific area. There is growing evidence which suggests this can be used and the treatment of osteoarthritis, rotator cuff injuries, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, back and neck pain as well as chronic pain conditions. These injections are usually given between a 2 and 4 week interval thereby allowing the body to heal in the interim between injections. Improvement is usually seen within the first several weeks continues with further treatments. Arguably the most famous PRP patient is Hines Ward. Mr. Ward was a receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He suffered a MCL sprain in the AFC Champion game. This type of injury typically takes 4 to 6 weeks to heal. He underwent PRP injections and was able to play the entire game 2 weeks later in the super bowl.
How Does PRP Work?
Platelets contain many growth factors. By concentrating the platelets we can deliver a large amount of your natural growth factors to a specific area in the body. Delivering an increased concentration of platelet-based growth factors at the site of injury helps to reduce pain and inflammation and may expedite the healing process. Animal studies have shown that PRP treatments can generate rapid collagen and blood vessel growth in surgically-created soft tissue lesions, but it should be noted that these results cannot be directly extrapolated to humans. However, they can be used to support the theory that concentrations of platelet-rich blood have the potential to promote healing in damaged tendons, ligaments and muscles. Multiple studies are underway around the world aimed at better understanding the impact PRP injections have on healing and recovery, as well as the best ways to incorporate the procedure into clinical practice.
Common Conditions Treated with PRP
The general understanding is that PRP can play a vital role in recovering from the acute or chronic tendon, ligament, and muscle injuries; arthritis, particularly arthritis of the knee; and, to a very limited degree, fractures. While it is still much too soon to draw concrete conclusions from these studies, anecdotal evidence, particularly that emerging from the treatment of high-level athletes, indicates that the use of PRP injections is very effective in promoting healing and decreasing recovery time.
Risks Associated with PRP
The level of risk is equal to the risk of a steroid injection or pain block to the affected area. There are no incisions required for the procedure, so the risk of infection is very low and recovery time is virtually nonexistent. Furthermore, there are no additives or chemicals involved in the preparation of a PRP injection, so there are no foreign substances being introduced to the body during the procedure. These factors all combine to make PRP a safe procedure for treating musculoskeletal pain.
Who’s A Candidate for PRP Treatment?
Anyone who is suffering from a musculoskeletal soft-tissue injury could be a candidate for PRP injections. Whether your injury is chronic or acute, your physician could recommend PRP injections to promote healing and shorten your recovery time.