Recently, platelet-rich plasma injections have become notably more popular for their ability to treat a multitude of conditions, ranging from the aesthetic to medical. The treatment uses a person’s own blood cells in order to accelerate the healing in a localized area. It has been touted as an alternative to pain medications and invasive surgeries. But is it safe? Here’s what you need to know.
What are PRP Injections?
PRP or platelet-rich plasma injections first begin by drawing the patient’s blood. Then, the blood is placed through a centrifuge, a device that spins to separate the two main components of blood: platelets and plasma.
While the plasma is the mass liquid portion of blood, the platelets are the cells that circulate within our blood, making up for less than 1% of its total.
Though it may make up a very small portion of blood, platelets bind together when they recognize damaged blood vessels and play an integral role in the body’s healing process.
Therefore, when platelets are injected into a damaged part of the body, they go to work, triggering renewal and tissue regeneration in the treated area.
What Can PRP Injections Treat?
Some of the most popular usages for PRP treatments include:
- Knee pain from an injury, illness, or normal wear and tear
- Damaged or degraded cartilage
- Tendon and ligament tears
- Sciatica and back pain, including bulging or herniated discs
- Neck injuries, such as whiplash
- Shoulder pain, including rotator cuff issues
- Hip pain
- Elbow pain, such as tennis elbow
- Bone spurs and other bone issues, including osteoporosis
- Peripheral neuropathy and other nerve-related problems
- Foot and ankle pain, such as plantar fasciitis
- Hair restoration for conditions such as alopecia
- Other aesthetic purposes such as wrinkle reduction and enhancement of crepey skin
Is PRP a Safe Alternative?
Since the platelet-rich plasma is taken directly from the patient, there is little to no chance of an adverse reaction to it. Simply put, a platelet-rich plasma injection is just your blood that’s been supercharged with more platelets: there or no additives, narcotics, or preservatives needed. Patients are also not limited to the number of treatments they can have because side effects are minimal and do not increase with the number of injections.
Additionally, since the procedure is minimally invasive, with only the blood draw and injections, there is little to no downtime afterward. Other than making sure to stay hydrated before and after getting blood drawn, the patient can go back to their daily activities as normal. Some bruising and soreness at the injection sites may develop and should subside quickly.
Research for the different uses of platelet-rich plasma or PRP is promising and rapidly growing. Furthermore, research confirming the safety and efficacy of its usage is equally favorable. In comparison to its counterparts, which include taking medications over long periods of time or undergoing surgeries, PRP is the least invasive and most natural alternative. It is also much less risky, painful, and requires shorter recovery periods than surgeries as well. All in all, platelet-rich plasma injections offer a viable solution to both acute and chronic conditions, in a safe and natural way.