Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) a boon for natural healing of Pain
by, Dr.K.Vijayaraghavan,MD.,FIPM (Germany)
Blood is a mixture of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and a solution of proteins called ‘plasma’. PRP, or ‘platelet-rich plasma’, is a concentrated solution of platelets taken from ‘autologous’ blood; in other words, from your own blood that is then injected to treat a variety of musculoskeletal disorders including cartilage defects and arthritis.
What is PRP?
There are numerous ways of preparing PRP, but, in essence, a volume of blood, ranging from 10–60 ml, depending on the process being used, is drawn from the patient. Commercially devices are available that can prepare the solution in a one- or two-stage process. Some hospitals and centres with haematology labs can produce the solution themselves using only a centrifuge. However, the most common method is to use a commercial approved PRP device, which we practise in PPMC (Phoenix Pain Management Centre). Using these approved devices gives the most clinically effective PRP concentrate.
The centrifugation process basically separates the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets into a number of different layers. One is rich in red blood cells, another layer (the buffy coat) may be rich in platelets and white cells, and another layer will contain platelet-poor plasma.
The basic concept behind PRP centers around isolating the layer that the platelet-rich plasma, while trying to leave as many of the red and white blood cells behind as possible. However, depending on the preparation method, some products will create a platelet-rich plasma that either contains lots of white blood cells, known as ‘white blood cell enriched’, or one that is ‘white blood cell depleted’.
The issue here is that a white blood cell enriched solution will contain proteins, known as pro-inflammatory cytokines that can potentially trigger an inflammatory reaction. In other words, it may contain factors that can create inflammation in tissues, be it in the joint or in the soft tissues where the PRP is injected.
PRP has been around for many years, but it gained significant popularity in 2006, as it was used extensively in many sports injuries and gained its international clinical importance.
The use of PRP has grown significantly as it doesn’t involve steroid or and pain killers. Its completely a natural healing process. A number of PRP studies were also published around that time, and interest in research into PRP rose exponentially. Although PRP has been investigated extensively in the basic science laboratory, and numerous clinical studies have been published about its effectiveness in treating pain.
What Conditions are Treated with PRP? Is It Effective?
- Arthritis or osteoarthritis, especially those with degenerative knee cartilage
- A torn ligament or ligament sprains
- Tendonitis or tendon injuries
- A bulging or herniated disc
- Injuries due to sports or exercising (such “tennis elbow,” plantar fasciitis in runners, or common injuries affecting the rotator cuff)
- Sacroiliac problems
- Sciatica/sciatic nerve pain
- Common hand injuries experienced by younger and middle-aged adults, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, Skier’s or “Gamekeepers” thumb and “Texting thumb”
- Chronic pain in any susceptible area such as the neck, lower back, knees or shoulders.
Treatment with platelet-rich plasma holds great promise. The risk associated with PRP is very minimal compared to other interventions. Its complete a natural healing process at a very cost effective price. The magic lies with using proper approved PRP device and the doctors skills, says Dr.K.Vijayaraghavan,MD.