Earlier this year, I was participating in a golf event with three of my friends. About the fourth hole, I noticed my friend rubbing his shoulder after each shot. I finally asked “what was the problem?” He stated he had shoulder pain for many years. The pain started when he injured his shoulder playing football in college. He said the pain initially was off and on for many years but now had been on a daily basis. It was now affecting his activities.
He saw his Family Physician and had a MRI which showed chronic tendon problems in the rotator cuff of his shoulder. Traditional treatments of ice, Advil, exercises and even formal physical therapy had been tried and failed. I told him about Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy at Atlantic Spine and Joint Institute. “What is Plasma Therapy” he responded?
Below are my response to this series of questions:
What is Plasma?
Blood plasma is the yellow liquid component of blood in which blood cells in the whole blood are normally suspended. It houses all the cellular components of blood such as red cells, white cells and the platelets.
What is Platelet Rich Plasma?
Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP is a treatment that promotes healing and relieves pain in many musculoskeletal conditions. PRP therapy provides natural healing by using the bodies own blood components to jump start repair of damaged tissues.
What is the use of PRP?
PRP stimulates the growth and repair of damaged tendons and ligaments. It uses growth factors already present in our blood. However, with higher concentrations of these factors, the injuries heal much faster and most studies show these treated damaged tissues are stronger than before.
What can be treated with PRP?
There are multiple uses for PRP Therapy. At Atlantic Spine and Joint Institute, PRP is primarily used to heal tendon and ligament damage and injury.
Why can’t the body heal itself?
Tendons and ligaments have a poor blood supply. Once injured, these tissues do not heal easily and with day to day activities other tissues become over burdened causing more pain and weakness.
Is PRP the same as cortisone?
Cortisone shots may provide temporary relief of pain and inflammation associated with tendon and ligament injuries. However, repeated cortisone is usually needed and can actually damage tissue and usually does not give permanent relief. PRP actually heals and stimulates growth of tissues by strengthening and thickening of the tendons and ligaments by up to 40% in some studies.
What is the success rate of PRP?
Nothing in medicine is 100% but typical success is 80% and when the procedure is repeated the rate increases.
What is the procedure like?
The entire process takes 20-30 minutes. A small amount of blood is drawn from the patient and spun in a centrifuge for separation. The PRP is then removed and used to inject the damage tissue.
What can I expect after the procedure?
As the PRP is injected into the damaged tissue, it causes an inflammatory process. This inflammation signals the body to start the healing cascade. Collagen begins to develop and as collagen matures it shrinks causing tightening and strengthening of the area.
Does the procedure hurt?
A local anesthetic is use prior to the injection but most patients state the discomfort is minimal.
How do I know PRP Therapy is right for my condition?
If a patient has a tendon or ligament injury that has not responded to tradition therapy, then PRP is an alternative that should be considered.
How soon can I go back to my physical activities?
Even professional athletes take time to heal and PRP Therapy is not a quick fix. Tendons and ligaments need time to repair and regenerate with PRP. Therefore, the doctors at Atlantic Spine and Joint Institute along with our therapy team will determine when you should resume your normal physical activities.