Platelets are specialized cells which area a component of the blood. They are highly essential in healing damaged tissues because they contain several growth factors, proteins, and enzymes that trigger the process of natural healing and repair.
Naturally occurring platelets in the body secrete several growth factors such as platelet-derived growth factor which stimulates cell replication, vascular endothelial growth factor for angiogenesis, fibroblast growth factor which stimulates proliferation of myoblasts and angiogenesis, and insulin- like growth factor-1 which mediates growth and repair of skeletal muscle.
What is PRP?
Because of their profound characteristics for stopping bleeding (by initiating blood clotting) and initiating the process of repair, platelets have been utilized in regeneration therapy by obtaining a platelet rich plasma (PRP) solution derived from the blood of the patient himself.
A platelet rich plasma not only supplies a rich ‘nutrient base’ of growth factors but also triggers a higher influx of stem cells and other repair cells to the site of injury or damage. The platelet concentration adds the plasma proteins fibrin, fibronectin and vitronectin to contribute to the repair.
The concentration of the platelets is enhanced by centrifugation of the blood collected from the patient to separate the plasma, resulting in a platelet rich plasma.
How is PRP applied to the Damaged Site?
PRP is injected directly into the damaged site by a process called prolotherapy using a syringe. PRP is ideally used in conjunction with stem cells, and a combination of the two is used in the first round of treatment of the damaged joint. Subsequent treatments can make use of standalone PRP injections administered every 4-6 weeks over 3-6 visits, as necessary.
PRP awakens the inflammatory response of the body and triggers the healing process. Even when PRP is not combined with Stem cells after the first round of treatment, it can still trigger an influx of stem cells, owing to its high concentration of platelets, and act as a proliferator for them, thus aiding in the repair process. In addition to this, the growth factors present in the PRP play a pivotal role in the repair mechanism.
The underlying concept behind PRP therapy is to utilize the patient’s own biologic healing properties. The patient’s own growth factors are injected back into him in over a 1000% baseline.
PRP therapy causes very little discomfort and requires less frequent treatment as compared to other traditional therapies.
The Growing Popularity of PRP Prolotherapy
Soon after its successful application in the area of sports medicine, several high profile athletes gave PRP prolotherapy a shot and had been very happy with the results. Renowned golfer Tiger Woods was at the peak of his career when he seemed to be in need of a ‘magical cure’ for his knee ailment. He underwent PRP prolotherapy, which at that time was an experimental procedure, with a Canadian Doctor and was able to make a successful return to the game.
Many other athletes slowly like Takashi Saito, Kobe Bryant, Rafael Nadal and Alex Rodriguez started following Woods’ lead and have experienced and endorsed the several benefits of this therapy which soon caught on and started finding application in joint regeneration treatment for other areas apart from just sports injuries. It is very less expensive and far more successful than traditional modes of approach to joint treatment like surgery.
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