Have you ever heard of Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy? Also known as PRP, doctors have been prescribing these treatments since the 1970s to boost the body’s ability to heal itself.
Perhaps a healthcare provider has recently suggested that PRP might be a beneficial approach for one or more of your medical conditions. Historically, PRP has been used to treat:
- Hair loss
- Aging skin
- Muscle strain
- Tennis elbow
- Pain related to arthritis
- Torn tendons
Essentially, PRP may be used for aesthetic reasons or to help speed up the body’s healing process after an injury or surgery. It is becoming increasingly common for PRP therapy to be used in conjunction with spinal adjustments or even in place of spinal adjustments.
Do Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections Really Work?
Most experts agree that more studies are needed to conclusively determine just how effective PRP treatments are for various ailments. Nonetheless, a wealth of anecdotal evidence suggests that many people experience significant relief from this therapy, and there is a growing body of scientific evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of PRP.
What Exactly Is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
PRP is created in a laboratory by a skilled technician using the whole blood of a donor, who generally also is the patient. Whole blood is removed from the patient just as it is for any normal lab work. After being placed in a centrifuge, the blood is spun in circles at a high rate of speed.
This spinning serves to separate the blood into three components: red blood cells, white blood cells that may be referred to as the “buffy coat” and a third component containing mostly platelets. Platelets also may be present in the buffy coat, and both this component and the third component may be used to make platelet-rich plasma.
This method of preparing platelet-rich plasma was FDA approved in 2009.
Technicians collect the platelets, which are then injected back into the patient at the site of the injury. This speeds the healing process and may help patients to make a full recovery.
Why Is PRP Therapy Sometimes Prescribed?
A reasonably wide range of injuries or conditions may be treated or alleviated through the use of PRP. Everything from an injury to the musculoskeletal system to nerve pain may respond favorably to the therapy. It is even possible that PRP may be used for some cosmetic purposes.
Here is a closer look at PRP’s many uses.
One of the most common uses of PRP therapy is in the world of sports medicine and orthopedic surgery. In fact, many people who suffer an injury may be able to avoid having to undergo surgery if they try PRP treatments first.
Doctors have found success using platelet-rich plasma on Achilles tendon ruptures and rotator cuff tears as well as a variety of soft-tissue injuries. Reduced pain and improved function often is experienced by patients who receive PRP therapy for tennis elbow, chronic tendinosis or tendonitis.
Why is PRP therapy so frequently chosen in the field of sports medicine and orthopedic surgery? It’s because doctors and patients have realized that such treatments often mitigate the reliance on opioids and anti-inflammatory medications. Side effects are either minimal or non-existent from the treatment because it is manufactured from the patient’s own blood. Basically, the use of PRP simply speeds up the healing process so that the patient can get back to their normal daily routine.
PRP treatments also may be valuable for those who are experiencing nerve injuries. This is a relatively new application, with doctors having used PRP since about 2012 to treat peripheral neuropathy, which is a specific nerve injury.
What About PRP and Chiropractic?
In recent years, an increasing number of chiropractors have recommended PRP therapy as an addition to patient treatments. Chiropractors use PRP to help get their patients back on the move without the need for joint replacement or surgery.
Chiropractic care and PRP therapy work well together because they both operate along the principles of encouraging the body to heal itself. Your body is naturally designed to heal itself and generate new cells throughout your lifetime. However, the body’s ability to keep up with the appropriate number of new cells becomes impaired with age. PRP treatments help to stimulate blood flow and cell growth right where it is needed. The result is that you gain back valuable range of motion and functionality that you may not have had for years.
Is PRP Therapy FDA Approved?
We’ve already mentioned that the method of collecting platelet-rich plasma in the lab is FDA approved. It’s vital to understand that the FDA is closely involved in the approval and clearance of all devices that are used to make PRP and the treatments themselves.
The vast majority of devices that are used to make platelet-rich plasma in the laboratory are FDA approved. On the other hand, PRP treatments are a different subject.
Because platelet-rich plasma is a natural substance that is withdrawn from the patient’s own body and then replaced in the patient, it is not considered a drug under FDA guidelines. Accordingly, FDA approval is not required for these treatments.
Nonetheless, the treatments and procedures that are most commonly used in clinical settings have been “cleared” by the FDA, which means that they are legally allowed for use.
This also is true where platelet-rich plasma therapies are used to treat sports injuries. Although no formal FDA approval of these treatments has been granted, PRP therapy is widely used around the world for sports-related injuries.
In the case of orthopedic surgery, the FDA has approved the use of platelet-rich plasma treatments, and approval is pending for tendonitis.
Because platelet-rich plasma is a natural therapy and not a drug, it can be difficult for a government agency that is specifically targeted at approving drugs to make known its stance on the treatment. However, the FDA has given every indication that they see no reason to object to PRP treatments when they are being administered by a healthcare professional. In fact, the devices and methods for creating platelet-rich plasma are approved by the FDA, and many of the treatments have been officially cleared.
Regenerative Medicine on the Horizon
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is just one example of the growing field of regenerative medicine. In fact, in accordance with the 21st Century Cures Act, the FDA has founded a special initiative called Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy Designation that will help to advance the cause of PRP therapy and similar treatments in the new century.
Should You Try PRP Therapy?
Talk to your integrative health specialist today to learn more about platelet-rich plasma therapy. It is possible that you could benefit from one or more PRP treatments if you are suffering from a musculoskeletal or other injury. People with tendonitis, arthritis, nerve damage and other conditions also may benefit, so it is always a good idea to bring up this subject with your care provider.
If you are dealing with:
- Chronic back pain;
- Tennis elbow;
- Painful joints; or
then PRP treatments may be the right approach for you.
When platelet-rich plasma therapies are administered in a clinical setting by a licensed professional, they are thoroughly safe, and the FDA has either approved or cleared all of these uses. This means that you can rely on your healthcare professional to provide you with PRP treatments that will do you no harm and may actually do you a world of good.
Contact us today to learn more about PRP therapy and how it may be the key to getting you moving again and feeling like your old self in no time.