What is PRP Therapy, Its Benefits, and Its Risks

 Platelet-rich plasma or PRP therapy is a treatment that takes advantage of the natural healing properties found within your own blood. During the treatment, a small amount of your own blood is centrifuged to remove red blood cells, leaving only the liquid plasma behind. This plasma has a greater concentration of platelets and other growth factors than your whole blood. This platelet-rich plasma can be injected into parts of your body to help promote the healing of damaged tissue, reduce inflammation, and otherwise slow down the progression of osteoarthritis.

 Platelet-rich plasma injections are not considered standard practice yet, but a growing number of people have turned to this therapy to help reduce the symptoms of arthritis and speed up the recovery process after injuries.

As with any medical procedure, there are some potential drawbacks to using PRP injections to help manage your arthritis symptoms. No medical procedure is ideal for everyone, so you need to speak with your doctor to find out if this treatment is right for you. When consulting someplace like Pacific Stem Cell PRP for treatment options, be sure to take a look at their website and do a little research.

The Pros of Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy

The biggest advantage of using platelet-rich plasma injections to treat your arthritis is that it is a simple procedure that is derived from your own blood. You aren't injecting any medications into your body that could cause an adverse reaction, and you aren't committing to a major surgical procedure that would require a long period of rehabilitation. It's just a simple injection of something derived from your own body.

Another reason to consider PRP injections is that it has worked in the past. More clinical research is required before anybody can say that the treatments definitely work better than other treatment options, but studies such as one completed in 2013 have shown that the practice can reduce pain and restore movement in people living with osteoarthritis in the knees over a period of six months. In other words, the practice has a proven track record of being successful.

The Cons of Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy

The biggest issue with platelet-rich plasma therapy is that there is still much we don't know about how well it works. While it has proven to be at least somewhat successful in previous studies, the practice is still largely experimental, and many doctors would rather stick to more traditional treatment options.

There are also questions about how and when platelet-rich plasma therapy should be used. It seems to be the most effective in the early stages of osteoarthritis, although some doctors believe that the practice should be reserved for when other treatment options have been exhausted. We also don't know what the optimal concentrations of platelets and other growth factors really are in plasma, nor do we know how the treatment is affected by cortisone or other drugs that may be used to treat osteoarthritis. This will hopefully change as doctors perform more clinical trials on the effectiveness of PRP, but right now they are largely in the dark.

We should also mention that osteoarthritis cannot truly be cured. It is a degenerative condition that affects everyone a little bit differently. Some patients might find that PRP injections are very effective in treating their mild arthritis, while others might find that the treatments do next to nothing to relieve their more severe symptoms. In any case, PRP injections would be used to treat symptoms and not the underlying cause of the disease. All that any arthritis treatment can hope to achieve is to slow the progression of the disease.

Are PRP injections Right for You?

As you can probably tell, most of the questions about PRP injections revolve around the fact that we know relatively little about how PRP really works. More research is being completed all the time on this treatment option, so hopefully, doctors will have a more definitive answer about how well it really works. It has proven to be effective in the past though, especially on mild or moderate cases of arthritis.

If you live with osteoarthritis and you are looking for a way to relieve some of your symptoms, ask your doctor if platelet-rich plasma therapy is right for you. Even though there is still relatively little we know about this practice, anybody who lives with a chronic condition such as arthritis knows that any chance to relieve their more painful symptoms would be welcome. 

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