Our joints endure a great deal of use over the course of our lifetime. Genetic factors, history of injury and regular “wear and tear” can result in painful osteoarthritis. Younger adults who participate in athletic competitions and those who simply overuse their joints may also experience this condition. Fortunately, there have been recent breakthroughs, including platelet rich plasma therapy, which are proving to be an alternative to joint replacement.
Why Do So Many Of Us Get Osteoarthritis
Don’t think you can escape joint pain if you are still young or not an athlete. We all use our joints every day and all day. This condition occurs as we gradually lose the cartilage located at the end of our joint bones. This smooth substance allows us to move our joint smoothly and in almost every direction without pain.
Eventually, as the cartilage continues to degenerate, we can find ourselves with joint stiffness and in pain. Most physicians will treat your joint pain with all the typical conservative treatments, but if those therapies are unsuccessful, joint replacement surgery is normally recommended.
What is PRP?
PRP stands for platelet rich plasma. Our blood is made up of mainly plasma, a liquid which contains red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets that are cause our blood to clot. Platelets contain proteins by the hundreds known as “growth factors” which also help to heal injuries. PRP is plasma, but it contains 5 to 10 times more platelets than a standard blood sample.
This concentrated injection is created when platelets are separated through a process called centrifugation. The purpose of making this robust PRP injection is to aid cell growth and encourage our tissues to heal faster naturally.
How Is PRP Injection Therapy Used?
PRP is a form of regenerative medicine to increase natural growth factors the body uses to heal tissue. Employing your own healing system, it can speed the healing of tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints.
PRP has been used to reduce pain and speed up a patient’s recovery from common conditions like:
- Rotator cuff tears
- Achilles tendon ruptures
- Soft tissue injuries
- Tennis or golf elbow
- Jumper’s knee
These injections have also been used to treat cosmetic issues like hair loss, in addition to symptoms associated with osteoarthritis, and post surgical pain. PRP has even been used during surgery to be stitched into torn tissues.
PRP As An Alternative To Surgery
Physicians are learning more about how our own body helps to enhance healing properties. Known as regenerative medicine, platelet rich plasma (PRP) releases growth factors that stimulate and increase the number of repair cells our bodies produce.
Blood or bone marrow is taken from a patient and placed into a centrifuge to get a concentration of platelets. It is essential that the kit a physician is using is FDA approved to ensure the concentration is at the correct level to treat the joint effectively.
The concentrated blood mixture is then directly injected into the joint to speed up the healing process and regenerate the lost cartilage.
There are several benefits of PRP therapy which include the following:
- Reduces the need for anti-inflammatory medications or opioids for pain
- Limited side effects since it uses your own blood or bone marrow
The greatest benefit of regenerative medicine is that it uses each patient’s individual healing system to improve injuries and reduce pain.
Contact Dr. McLaughlin at (978) 969-3624 if you have tried other therapies for your joint pain, including cortisone shots, and are looking for an alternative to joint replacement surgery.