Recovering from joint injuries is no easy task. At Phoenix Regenerative Medicine of Tempe, AZ, we hope to make your recovery easier and faster by providing the best available treatment using the latest technology. One of the most effective techniques that we use is actually not all that new, but it has gotten better over time. PRP Injections provide unparalleled recovery without the hassles of other treatments.
PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma, which is a material derived from your own blood. To produce a PRP injection, a doctor will draw some blood from your arm and put it in a centrifuge that separates those four components. We keep some plasma and extract all of the platelets to create a concentrated volume of plasma loaded with platelets.
How Quickly do PRP Injections Work?
Depending on your condition, you should see results between 2-6 weeks after receiving a PRP injection. Mild injuries or chronic pain cases typically see results within the first two weeks, while more serious injuries won’t be able to appreciate the healing until around a month has passed.
The healing process begins within 24 hours of injection and continues to accumulate over time. What is interesting about PRP treatment is that the results continue to emerge as you exercise and add therapy to your recovery plan. Patients typically see their treated area get better for the next several months!
We often recommend a follow-up injection to continue producing optimal results. PRP works quickly, and the results are long-lasting because your body is actually creating new, healthy cells. How does PRP produce these impressive results?
How Platelet-Rich Plasma Works
When platelets become concentrated in a single location they activate your body’s natural healing mechanisms. Platelets release growth factors, or proteins that encourage healthy cells to divide in order to heal your wounds. The process begins immediately, and healing can be noticed within 24 hours.
Normally, this happens when you cut yourself or have a serious injury. Immediately you experience swelling at the site, which is your body’s way of concentrating platelets into the area. But there are some parts of the body that, when injured, do not trigger this response due to limited blood flow or simply due to the size of the injury. Long-term damage from aging or wear and tear likewise cannot activate this healing mechanism.
PRP begins working immediately and continues working for up to two months. Patients typically report that their symptoms continue to fade in the months that follow. The benefits last for at least a year, although minor injuries may be cured entirely after one or two treatments.
What Factors Inhibit the Effectiveness of a PRP Injection?
Although the majority of patients report positive results within just a few weeks of receiving an injection of PRP, some may not. There are several reasons why you might read about this, and rest assured that we make every effort to maximize the efficacy of our PRP treatments.
The quality of your platelets and plasma will determine much of the success of the treatment. We advise patients to eat a healthy diet and stay away from smoking or drinking for a few days prior.
The severity of your condition is another factor. Since PRP stimulates the division of healthy cells, the fewer you have available the less you might benefit. Therefore, don’t let your injuries linger! The sooner you choose PRP treatment, the more effective it will be.
Are There Ways to Make PRP Injections Work Faster?
As years of research have piled up, we’ve been able to learn the best protocols for PRP treatment. Not all concentrations of PRP are the same, for example. The exact method of application also matters. We are constantly looking to improve our practice and stay up to date with the latest literature.
One finding that we have embraced is that combining PRP with physical therapy yields much better results. At Phoenix, we have the latest in physical therapy machines for joint injuries. These are the same machines you would find at a professional sports team’s medical center.
Therapy improves blood flow to the injection site, which further enhances the healing properties of PRP. In addition, keeping your joints limber and stimulated as opposed to simply resting them for weeks on end has been shown to speed up recovery and reduce pain symptoms. Our combinations of therapy and PRP have reduced recovery times by over a third compared to standard procedures.
How Does a PRP Injection Compare to Other Treatments?
Everyone should consider all of the options that are available before deciding on one particular method of treatment. When it comes to joint problems, the options that most doctors recommend involve medication and rest, or reconstructive surgery. PRP presents an alternative to both of these, so how do they compare in terms of recovery time and other risks?
PRP Vs. Surgery
While surgery may be the only option in certain cases, we are of the belief that it is often overprescribed. Your body is quite capable of healing itself when given the right push, and that’s exactly what a PRP injection does.
Surgery generally means 2-3 months of complete inactivity. Meanwhile, a PRP injection can have you back up and moving around in just a few weeks. Although surgical intervention is touted as an excellent long-term solution, the long-term studies of PRP use reveal that the results can be equally impressive. And you avoid the risks of surgery, as well as its high costs.
PRP Vs. Medication
Steroids are often prescribed to deal with joint pain or muscle recovery. If you’re a competitive athlete, then you know that these can get you into serious trouble. Even for the average citizen, these medications can have harmful side effects.
PRP provides a safer alternative since it uses your body’s own components to heal you. In addition, the relief from medication, while often quite fast-acting, does not last for long. PRP treatment does not force you to become dependent on pharmaceuticals to function.
Conditions That We Use PRP to Treat
PRP has been in use for nearly 50 years, but it wasn’t until the early 00s that PRP injections became commonplace. Doctors didn’t see PRP as a permanent solution, rather it was viewed as a supplementary treatment to surgery to aid recovery. These days, doctors recognize that PRP combined with physical therapy can produce results that rival surgery without the risks and costs associated with surgical intervention.
We have sports medicine to thank for this new understanding of PRP treatment. Professional athletes loathe surgery since it usually means the end of their competitive season. Team doctors turned to PRP to treat joint problems and keep their top performers on the field.
Here at Phoenix Regenerative Medicine, we focus on musculoskeletal applications of PRP. Here are some of the applications we can provide.
Spinal Discs and Back Pain
When the discs in your spine bulge or become too thin, or simply slip out of place, you can experience severe discomfort. Historically, surgical procedures were the only option to address these conditions. However, back surgery is not only highly invasive but also quite hard to recover from. Patients typically need 2-3 months to fully recover from back surgery.
Studies have shown that PRP treatment can provide significant pain relief for chronic lower back pain, as well as disc issues. Patients usually see improvement within 6 weeks. Follow-up treatments may be needed for best results, but clearly PRP gets the job done more quickly.
Ligament and Tendon Damage
Ligaments and tendons have always been difficult to treat without surgery. Part of the problem is that rest is not always possible for patients who have to continue to work. Anatomy does us no favors as these tissues tend to be tucked away and are not exposed to high volumes of blood flow.
Reconstructive ligament surgery requires at least a month of immobilization afterward. PRP can be injected deep into joints to reach ligaments and attachment points on tendons with no immobilization required. This improves patient outcomes considerably, with most patients finding results within 4 weeks.
Meniscus and Cartilage Damage
Soft tissues in the knees and other joints degrade over time with heavy use. They can also be damaged from sharp movements or sudden impacts. The cartilage in your joints acts as a cushion to keep your bones from bumping into each other. When this is damaged, movement can be very painful.
The problem with cartilage is that your body does not naturally regenerate it. The solution has usually been to use surgical inserts or artificial fillers. However, PRP is able to stimulate cartilage growth. A 4-year study of patients who received PRP treatment found long-term growth and restored function even in people who exercised daily and put extra pressure on their joints.
Muscle damage, like damage to ligaments and tendons, depends on rest to see a full recovery. PRP treatment has been used to help muscle tears, both full and partial, to heal faster. In fact, one study found that using PRP to treat muscle damage showed a 30% reduction in recovery time.
The number of approved applications for PRP treatment has exploded in recent years. New studies have approved it for everything from severe burns to erectile dysfunction. If you are unsure if PRP would be right for you, talk to our staff to find out what other treatments we offer at Phoenix.
Is PRP an Option?
The good news is that almost everyone is able to receive PRP injections. However, as an autologous process (meaning that the PRP comes from your own blood), your health may limit your ability to produce high-quality PRP.
If you have serious liver problems, then your body may not be able to produce enough high-quality platelets for the treatment to be effective. Nevertheless, this applies to very few people and most patients will have no problem producing a viable amount of PRP. So, if your body is in good health, then how fast can you expect results from PRP?
Learn More About Our PRP Treatments
If you would like to know more about how our PRP treatments can help you, contact Phoenix Joint and Spine Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Center of Tempe, Arizona today. Tell our staff what’s been bothering you and we’ll schedule a consultation to determine the best course of action.