Quality of life is often seriously impaired when people suffer from chronic joint or tendon pain. Repair of the chronic condition and reduction or elimination of its associated pain are the goals for physicians who treat these injuries. Health care researchers and medical providers are constantly working to develop therapies that are effective in stimulating the healing process. Tendons are notoriously hard to treat for a number of reasons. Unfortunately chronic and acute tendon injuries are among the most common physical ailments afflicting patients of all ages.
Understanding how the healing process works is a key factor in designing therapies for tendon injuries. Blood is a liquid within which are suspended solid particles of organic matter. The organic matter consists of platelets, which, in turn, contain hundreds of proteins called “growth factors”; growth factors play an important role in the healing process.
Internal and external wounds need blood flow to heal. Areas of the body that don’t have good blood flow are negatively impacted by an injury because they don’t have the fundamental aspect that stimulates the healing process. Tendons typically have limited blood flow the Achilles’ tendon gets its blood supply from a single vessel. Aging can cause restriction of blood vessels, and constant use can cause minute tears that result in scar tissue, also restricting blood flow. Reduced blood flow means fewer healing factors are delivered when the tendon suffers an injury.
Every wound in the body heals through a carefully balanced and timed healing process. Wounds that demonstrate poor or limited healing are thought to have failed to progress through the normal healing stages. Local factors (those that are directly related to the wound itself bacteria, foreign matter, etc) and systemic factors (those that affect the overall health of the individual diabetes, obesity, etc.) can cause impaired healing. Both local and systemic conditions can cause restriction of blood flow to an injured area of the body, and decreased blood flow will impact the ability of the body to heal that injury.
The theory behind PRP therapy is that it will assist to heal injuries that have reduced blood flow by introducing into those sites the very blood factors that contribute to the healing process. The PRP serum is derived from the patient’s own blood. Blood is first drawn from the body, then run through two centrifuge cycles to isolate out the platelet-rich plasma and other healing factors from the platelet-poor-plasma. The final serum is then injected back into the site of the injury. Because it is of the body itself, there is no risk of rejection.
Despite the significant anecdotal evidence that PRP is effective, the medical community has yet to declare definitively its efficacy one way or the other. The biggest challenge to widespread acceptance appears to be the lack of consistent, reliable and controlled studies. Factors that can influence the effectiveness of PRP treatment include:
The lack of research available on these subjects precludes any definitive conclusion from being drawn at present. Many physicians has suggested that the simple injection of a needle into the damaged tissue may be the trigger for improved healing, and not the substance being injected.
Because it poses no rejection risk, is based on medical research regarding the nature of the healing process, and is simple and quick to deliver, for those patients who suffer with chronic tendon pain, PRP therapy may provide the relief they are looking for. And who doesn’t want relief from constant, chronic pain?
To learn how to prepare Platelet-Rich Plasma using Dr.PRP Kit, click here to watch video.