An innovative, new therapy is now being used to treat pain caused by osteoarthritis and also slow its progression. It’s called Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and it could transform how the medical field approaches the treatment of musculoskeletal pain.
Pain relief and healing benefits
Here’s how it works. The body reacts to illness and injury with a natural healing process. Platelet cells in the blood stream are the first to arrive on site. Packed with growth and healing factors, platelets initiate the repair process and attract the critical assistance of stem cells. Using this natural mechanism, PRP intensifies the body’s efforts by delivering a higher concentration of platelets.
To create PRP, a small sample of your blood is drawn (similar to a lab test sample), and placed in a centrifuge. This device spins the blood at high speeds, separating the platelets from the other components. The concentrated platelet rich plasma (PRP) is then injected back into and around the point of injury, jumpstarting and significantly strengthening your natural healing ability.
The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome
PRP can be very effective in treating osteoarthritis, especially in the earlier stages. With age, the cartilage lining the joints can shrink and wear thin causing friction between the bones. Growths called bone spurs and inflammation can gradually enlarge the joint leading to the pain and dysfunction of arthritis. PRP can help reduce this inflammation and pain. It may also be able to stimulate cartilage regeneration, which could potentially inhibit the deteriorating effects of age and slow the progression of arthritis.
Safe, effective, lasting results
Although still in the early stages, patients treated with PRP so far have shown significant improvements in their pain and ability to function. Not yet covered by most insurances, PRP is an exceptionally safe procedure, performed in a sterile environment on an outpatient basis. Because your own blood is used, there is no risk of a transmissible infection and very low risk of allergic reaction.
The reason this new treatment can be successful and long lasting is because PRP resolves pain through healing. Initial improvement may be seen within a few weeks, gradually increasing as the healing progresses.
Because PRP is still relatively new and requires specialized training, the number of physicians performing this cutting edge therapy is somewhat limited throughout the country – physicians at the National Spine & Pain Centers are currently the only providers in the Mid-Atlantic region.