Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is widely used in orthopedics and other areas of medicine to help jump-start the natural healing process.
One reason it’s so popular among both doctors and patients is because PRP is made from your own blood — specifically, components that spur tissue repair and restoration.
PRP is especially helpful in relieving painful symptoms associated with inflammation. At Orange Orthopedics, board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon James M. Lee, Jr, MD, and our team offer PRP treatment as part of their custom approach to patient care.
If you have painful joint inflammation, here’s what you should know about PRP.
Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing
It’s easy to think of inflammation as something bad, but actually, the inflammatory process plays an important role in healing.
Right after an injury, your body responds by increasing blood flow to the area, providing the injured tissues with proteins and other materials they need to heal. Tiny blood vessels widen (dilate) to accommodate the increased volume of blood.
When the injury is superficial, these changes show up as redness and swelling in your skin.
At the same time, your immune system sends out white blood cells and other healing factors designed to battle invading germs and initiate the tissue repair process. The inflammatory process (or cascade) also helps whisk away toxins that make healing more difficult.
This type of healing response is associated with acute inflammation that happens right after an injury and lasts for just a short period of time.
How inflammation causes damage
While acute inflammation is good for healing, too much inflammation or inflammation that lasts a long time can be damaging. This is called chronic inflammation, and it’s a major contributor to heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and other serious and debilitating medical problems.
Chronic inflammation starts like acute inflammation. But while acute inflammation stops once an injury is healed, chronic inflammation continues. Sometimes, chronic inflammation happens even without a preceding injury, as it does in autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Over time, chronic inflammation can start to attack and damage healthy tissues. In your joints, chronic inflammation speeds up joint damage by attacking healthy cartilage that normally protects your joints.
PRP helps stop chronic inflammation
PRP contains a high concentration of tiny proteins called growth factors. These proteins trigger the production of other cells that help quell the inflammatory cascade.
Growth factors work in other ways, too, to help your body repair damaged tissues. With PRP, the healing process happens more rapidly, relieving symptoms and helping put a stop to the inflammatory cascade.
Because PRP comes from your own blood, there’s no risk of rejection or allergic responses — just natural healing benefits. PRP can be effective in musculoskeletal injuries, like a sprain, and in chronic conditions, like arthritis.
PRP treatment: what to expect
PRP therapy is an outpatient treatment. Your session begins with the extraction of a small amount of your blood. We process the blood in a device called a centrifuge, which separates the platelets and plasma from the rest of your blood to form PRP.
Next, we inject PRP into the inflamed joint. Once we inject the solution, the growth factors and other components of PRP immediately go to work to reduce inflammation and heal damaged tissues.
While PRP starts working right away, it can be a couple of weeks before you feel the benefits of the treatment. Depending on the extent of the joint damage, you may need a series of injections to achieve optimal benefits.
PRP treatment helps relieve pain and heal injuries naturally, decreasing the need for pain medicine and other therapies. To learn more about PRP therapy at our offices in Bayonne and West Orange, New Jersey, book an appointment online or over the phone today.