A Non-Operative Approach to Joint Health and Longevity with PRP

Dr. Karipidis injecting PRP into a shoulder

-by Dr. Maria Karipidis Pouria, MD, FAAP, CAQ sports medicine, FACP

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a natural and safe alternative regenerative therapy to treat joint pain.  The components of your blood include red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma.  During an injury, the platelets are recruited to the site of trauma to promote healing and tissue restoration.  They contain numerous and vital growth factors and proteins which begin remodeling and rebuilding tissue. 

How Is PRP Produced?

Placing the blood sample into the centrifuge to separate out the platelets.

PRP contains a higher concentration of platelets than the amount normally found in the blood. To create PRP, a sample of your blood is drawn and placed in an FDA-approved centrifuge, which separates out the platelets. These concentrated platelets are recombined with the patient’s blood plasma to make PRP.  The concentration of platelets in PRP allows the body to heal more rapidly and recognize that injury as a priority. By accumulating and isolating platelets into one injection, an injured joint, tendon, or cartilage may receive five to seven times the healing potential.  The injection is performed under ultrasound guidance for optimal results and precision.

What Are the Benefits of PRP?

The benefit of a PRP procedure is that you are utilizing your body’s own natural healing potential by using your own blood supply.  PRP has antimicrobial properties and therefore there is an extremely low risk of infection and contamination when performed under a sterile technique.  PRP is homologous and eliminates the possibility of mismatch or rejection.

There are numerous benefits to PRP injections. Performed safely in the office, PRP therapy relieves pain without the risks of surgery, general anesthesia, hospital stays and without a prolonged recovery.  The procedure is performed typically in one hour in a quiet office setting. The downtime is usually one week with gradual return back to sports and exercise within two weeks. The vast majority of patients experience some minor swelling and discomfort around the injection site for a day or two.

What Does PRP Treat?

PRP can be utilized for joint pain due to osteoarthritis, post-traumatic arthritis from injuries, tendonitis or tendinopathy, bursitis, etc.  Common conditions treated at Longevita Medical include:

  • Shoulder, knee, and hip osteoarthritis
  • Rotator cuff tendinopathy/partial tears
  • Labral tears of the shoulder and hip
  • Meniscal tears of the knee
  • Hamstring tendinopathy
  • Gluteal tendinopathy/hip bursitis
  • Elbow pain due to tennis or golfer’s elbow

What Downtime Is Associated with PRP Injections?

Ultrasound guidance ensures accurate and specific placement of the PRP.

Healing is a complex process involving multiple biological processes that occur in three phases which include inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling. PRP assists in each of these stages.  Aching or soreness after the injection is a positive sign that demonstrates that a healing response has been set in motion. This effect can last for several days and gradually decreases as healing and tissue repair occurs. It is important that anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Aspirin be avoided for two weeks prior and following PRP treatments. These medicines may block the effects of the intended healing response facilitated by the injection itself. It is acceptable to use over the counter pain medication, such as Tylenol, and in some cases a prescribed analgesic which does not have anti-inflammatory properties, to control discomfort as needed.

The second and third phases of healing are proliferation and maturation.

  • Proliferation is the stage when the body begins to repair and replace damaged tissues with new, healthy cells. Growth factors in PRP stimulate and support this stage by recruiting cells called fibroblasts from the surrounding tissues.  These cells produce collagen necessary for tissue repair. Other growth factors support new blood vessel formation, delivering nutrients to new cells while removing wastes produced during healing. 
  • The proliferation phase supports collagen formation, helping your body form strong, dense scar tissue to repair the damaged area and prevent future injury.  The growth factors assist in all of these phases, and PRP therapy provides additional growth factors for enhanced responses in every healing and recovery stage.

When Will I Experience the Effects of Healing After PRP?

Abnormal or damaged collagen takes 9-12 months to completely heal, but patients should experience less pain and increased mobility within 4-6 weeks.

PRP therapy is known to reduce pain, improve joint function and stiffness.  This regenerative procedure has shown to slow, halt, or even repair damage to cartilage, help decrease inflammation and improve or accelerate healing to allow for a quicker recovery.  PRP injections also trigger the production of tissues like collagen, muscles, and connective tissues, recruit regenerative cells to the area of injury, and increase the regenerative cells’ effectiveness. 

How Long Do Results From PRP Last?

Dr. Karipidis reviewing a patient’s knee to determine proper treatment.

The period of effectiveness for a PRP treatment regimen will depend on numerous factors, including the condition toward which the PRP injections are targeted, the overall health condition of the patient receiving the injection, and how the body responds to the initial round of treatment.  Studies have shown that PRP treatment can provide several months to a few years of benefit.

PRP is a cutting-edge regenerative treatment advancing the field of orthopedic medicine.  It can reduce the need for surgery and serve as a superior alternative to temporary corticosteroid, hyaluronic acid “gel” injections, prescription and over-the-counter medications.

At Longevità Medical, triple board-certified Dr. Karipidis Pouria performs an in-depth evaluation of your condition before recommending PRP (or any therapy), tailoring your treatment to your needs and goals.  To learn more about PRP and to find out if you’re a candidate for PRP therapy and how it could alleviate your pain, call 585.244.1506 to book an appointment or contact us online.

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