If chronic pain and discomfort continually bother you, what can you do? Surgical solutions require significant recovery times and can still leave you limited. Medications offer temporary relief at the expense of your overall health, not to mention their cost. At Right Path Pain & Spine Center of Davenport, Florida, we promote a modern alternative: PRP therapy to naturally restore function and reduce pain.
PRP is not only natural, but it is also highly effective in a variety of scenarios. If you are interested in finding out what PRP can do for you and whether you would be a candidate for such a treatment, then read on to learn more.
Who Is a Candidate for PRP Therapy?
We’re going to look at just some of the common PRP treatments that we offer and also examine the few contraindications that might prevent you from being eligible for PRP therapy.
Generally speaking, however, there are only a few cases where PRP would not be a good idea. In fact, we at Right Path prefer to start with PRP before resorting to more drastic procedures.
Joints are a classic example of a perfect place to apply PRP. Joints naturally degrade over time as the repeated demands of life wear on them little by little. If you had a particularly tough job earlier in life, yours might be failing you sooner. PRP is most commonly used on knees, although it can also be quite helpful for ankle and elbow pain.
PRP has been proven useful in fighting bursitis, where the soft pads of the joints become inflamed leading to pain and stiffness. It has also been shown to work exceptionally well on osteoarthritis, as it can repair damaged cartilage.
Studies show that a round of PRP injections can provide up to a year of relief, which compares well against hyaluronic acid and cortisone shots, which may only provide a few months of comfort.
Damaged Ligaments, Tendons, and Muscles
Ligaments, tendons, and muscles are tricky to treat because it’s very difficult not to use them. Unlike broken bones which are immediately immobilized, these tissues are interconnected in such a way that it can be almost impossible for patients to leave them completely alone to heal. Complicating matters more is the fact that ligaments and tendons struggle to get a high volume of blood flow, which is necessary to speed up healing.
PRP treatment in these cases can be done via direct injection, and it’s very effective. How effective? Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward had a PRP injection for a ligament sprain in his knee, an injury that normally takes four to six weeks to recover from. He was on the field for the Super Bowl in just two weeks.
Male-pattern baldness affects nearly 85% of men by age 50. Until recently, the most effective treatment was surgery, typically transplanting or transferring hair from areas that had not been affected. Besides the expense of surgery, the procedure itself is destructive as it does not create new hair but simply relocates it.
PRP, on the other hand, has the ability to restore hair cells and stop aging damage in its tracks. It can be applied with topical creams so that you can easily weave the treatment into your routine. Thin hair will grow thicker and follicles you thought were dead can be revived.
We do recommend that people initiate PRP therapy for hair loss as soon as possible. Acting sooner will lead to better results with fewer treatments than if you wait until significant damage has been done.
The market for cosmetic treatments using PRP has exploded in recent years. Numerous wellness spas and health centers have turned to PRP to combat aging’s cosmetic consequences. There are several ways PRP can restore your youthful appearance.
The most common situation is skin damage due to aging. PRP can be injected into wrinkles or trouble spots for a significant improvement. Likewise, topical creams can be used over a general area to promote a more youthful appearance.
There is even new research showing that PRP can prevent scarring from accidents, and has even been shown to improve healing after severe burns. If you experience an accident and are concerned about how it may affect your appearance, ask about PRP treatment right away.
Contraindications for PRP Therapy
Now that we’ve covered the cases where PRP is highly recommended, we want to look at who shouldn’t receive PRP treatment. Generally, these cases are quite rare, and several of them are easily mitigated. Overall, the vast majority of people who are interested in PRP can get it.
This very large word refers to a condition wherein an individual has a very low platelet count. Typical platelet counts range between 150,000 to around 450,000 per microliter. Very low values usually indicate a serious problem, although there are some chronic hereditary syndromes that may cause this as well. In these cases, you may not be able to generate enough platelets to safely produce a PRP dose.
In addition, several immune conditions could cause platelets to be destroyed at high rates. In these cases, the platelets may be destroyed before they can have a meaningful effect, making PRP treatment a poor choice.
Several medications can have a negative effect on platelet production. Warfarin, Clopidogrel, Heparin, Cyclokapron, and even regular aspirin use can complicate PRP production. In these cases, we may recommend that you stay off the medication for a few weeks before your PRP treatment. If that’s not possible, you may have to wait until a doctor decides that you no longer need the medication.
Infections and Recent Illness
If you are currently experiencing an infection or dealing with an illness, even a mild one, it may be best to wait before receiving a PRP treatment. After all, the treatment could introduce the infection into a part of your body that was previously clean. It’s of the utmost importance that your plasma is in the best shape possible for a PRP treatment to be effective.
Fortunately, your body replenishes your plasma in just a few days. Once you no longer feel sick, you should be able to get your therapy before the week is up.
Severe Liver Disease
The liver performs many important functions in the body. One of these is the production of fibrinogen, a protein that can be turned into fibrin, which allows your blood to clot. Fibrin also affects how platelets perform during wound healing. It is an essential component in platelet-rich plasma.
Therefore, if your liver condition results in a low level of fibrinogen, the PRP harvested from your blood may not be suitable for use in therapy. A simple blood test can determine if your blood can provide the materials needed for a successful PRP treatment.
Drinking and Smoking
Both drinking and smoking can have a detrimental effect on the quality of the components in your blood. Alcohol thins the blood and inhibits platelet action. As a result, we advise all patients who are scheduled for PRP treatment to abstain from alcohol for a few days prior.
Although research is somewhat inconclusive, it seems that smoking has little direct effect on platelet numbers. However, it does restrict blood flow and may have a negative impact on platelet function. The restriction in blood flow can be problematic when trying to deal with chronic pain. If you can avoid smoking in the days leading up to your treatment, we would recommend it.
In some cases, your condition may be too advanced for PRP treatment to be worthwhile. For instance, using PRP to treat hair loss is more effective the earlier treatment begins. Extremely advanced cases may not see significant results. You might need several rounds of treatment to get the same results as someone with a less significant case.
In these cases, we always strive to provide our patients with realistic expectations. You may still opt for PRP treatment to see how well it works for you, but in these cases, we cannot necessarily guarantee optimal results.
What Is PRP?
PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma. Your blood contains four key ingredients: red and white cells, platelets, and plasma. To produce PRP, a doctor will remove the red and white cells from a sample of your blood. What is left over will contain a higher concentration of platelets than normal.
Concentrated PRP can then be injected into any part of the body to produce truly remarkable results. Best of all, it’s completely safe with no documented cases of serious complications.
How Does PRP Work?
Platelets are known best for their ability to clot blood and stop bleeding. While this is certainly one of their main functions, they also release growth factors near wounds. These growth factors tell healthy cells to divide and mark damaged cells for removal and destruction. Platelets play an essential role in the healing process.
However, this natural healing mechanism is only triggered by traumatic events. If you slice open a finger in the kitchen, the body will rush platelets to the area to plug up the wound, and then they will release growth factors. But what about cases where damage is done slowly over time?
PRP allows us to artificially jump start that process in cases where damage does not occur in an instant. That’s why PRP has become the default method of combatting aging. Whether your knees are weak or your skin is starting to sag, PRP can activate your body’s natural healing mechanisms and restore cells to peak condition quickly.
How Long Has PRP Been in Use?
Although PRP treatment has surged in popularity over the last two decades, it has actually been in use since the 60s! It began as a way to help patients recover from highly invasive surgeries, such as bypasses or other open-heart operations. Doctors noted that the use of PRP reduced patient recovery time. Pretty soon, it became common to use PRP to wrap up all kinds of operations.
PRP research took giant leaps forward in the 80s and 90s as sports medicine saw its potential. Now, star athletes can recover from injuries faster, and chances are, at least one player from your favorite team has had a PRP injection to return to action quickly.
Since the early 2000s, doctors have been investigating other uses for PRP. Primarily, cosmetic applications have been discovered, and these range from hair restoration to erectile dysfunction treatment. New medical applications are being explored every year, with dozens of papers appearing in medical research journals. PRP is here to stay.
Learn More About PRP
If you’d like more information about our PRP treatments, call Right Path Pain & Spine Centers of Davenport, FL. We can schedule a consultation to determine if PRP is right for you.