The human body is designed to heal itself — but sometimes the process is slower than expected. Sometimes health conditions, poor habits or other circumstances can stunt the natural healing process, and sometimes the pain of injury just demands a quicker solution. As an alternative to invasive procedures or powerful drugs, regenerative medicine focuses on tapping into the body’s own healing processes, empowering and even accelerating healing of damaged tissues. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections can play an important role in that process.
What Are Platelets, and Why Do They Matter?
Platelets are tiny cells found in the blood whose primary job is to promote clotting when injury occurs. Blood clots help to stop bleeding — think of it as a sort of plug — providing a protective layer so tissues can begin to regenerate with less risk of infection. Although the percentage of platelets in the blood is normally only about 1 percent, without them almost any injury could cause us to bleed to death.
What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
Platelet-rich plasma (or PRP) is plasma that contains a high concentration of platelet cells — roughly ten times the amount normally found in the blood. About 55 percent of your bloodstream is plasma, which is the fluid that carries your blood cells. When we draw your blood and place it in a centrifuge, we can separate out the other blood cells, leaving the PRP behind.
How Does PRP Therapy Work?
In situations of injury, inflammation or non-healing wounds, PRP can jumpstart the body’s self-healing processes. After we draw some blood and separate out the platelet-rich plasma, we can then re-introduce this plasma directly at the site of injury, giving the site an extra boost of platelets to enable quicker clotting and accelerate tissue regeneration. This therapy has been used successfully in treating conditions like non-healing wounds, osteoarthritis and other degenerative conditions in the knees, shoulders, hips and spine.
PRP therapy is by no means a miracle cure, but it can be a safe way to promote healing without the need for invasive medicines or surgery. To learn more, call Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery at 404-256-2633.