Platelet-Rich-Plasma Therapy: What it is & How it Works

knee joint

In the field of regenerative medicine, two of the most promising new therapies that might prove “cure-alls” for a variety of ailments are stem cell therapy and PRP therapy. Both are meant to use endemic material to spur your body to heal itself, but only PRP therapy is always sourced from the patient’s own blood. PRP, which stands for platelet-rich-plasma, is a concentrated solution of plasma extracted from the patient’s blood through a centrifuge. That’s it – no foreign substances, no stabilizers – just an injection of a concentration of the platelet-rich cells in your blood.

The platelets in your plasma are what work to heal tissue, generate new, healthy cells, and generally maintain the tissues, soft and hard, throughout your body. When we feel pain from creaky joints and damaged fascia, we’re experiencing our bodily damage outweighing its healing abilities.

Site-specific PRP injections for back pain, joint damage, knee pain, or carpal tunnel, supercharge your body’s healing program with that rush of platelets at the damaged area. PRP treatments allow you to achieve pain relief as well as tissue repair for a variety of conditions well past the ones mentioned.

Tissue Necrosis: What Does it Mean?

An ever-ominous and fear-inducing term, necrosis means tissue death. This can apply to any kind of tissue, from skin to fascia to muscle to bone. Causes may vary – skin necrosis can happen because of a burn, fascia death can be caused by necrotizing fasciitis, and bone necrosis can occur because of a particular break or various illnesses.

The weight of the meaning of “death” behind the medical term “necrosis,” is because it’s inherently different than just damaging tissue. Much of the time, tissue necrosis is irreversible. This is why major burn victims need skin grafts, and why severely frostbitten digits or limbs are amputated. Certain kinds of osteonecrosis may heal on their own, but for the most part, dead tissue is dead tissue.

Or is it?

How PRP Injections can Reverse Fascia & Bone Death

Let’s take two necrotic conditions as exemplars of how platelet-rich-plasma therapy might be able to repair seemingly irreparable tissue damage: Necrotizing fasciitis, and osteonecrosis.

Necrotizing fasciitis is a horrifying bacterial infection that does exactly what it says: kills the soft tissues beneath the skin. It spreads quickly and requires a fast diagnosis and heavy antibiotics for a patient to survive. Regardless, survivors have some level of permanent tissue damage, which is most commonly removed, as is any remaining infected tissue.

Recent studies in the use of PRP treatments in restoring tissue loss due to bacteria-caused fascia necrosis have observed some pretty amazing stuff. One patient had a 49 sq. in. wound from necrotizing fasciitis. Topical PRP treatments through the first month of treatment saw the wound reduce to 14 sq. in., with all the new fascia tissue proving healthy and properly structured.

Another patient, who received topical PRP treatments in tandem with a skin graft, had 100% of the graft survive the process, and zero skin ruptures after 10 months of healing. Complementarily, another study on PRP therapy in bacterial skin necrosis saw a 50% mean reduction in wound healing time with zero reported complications from the PRP treatments. Pretty interesting, right?

Osteonecrosis, also referred to as bone death or avascular necrosis, is the death of boney tissue in the body. Osteonecrosis in the hip is one of the most common presentations of this disease, but bone death can be caused by illness, an injury that disrupts blood supply to the bone, or for no discernable medical reason at all. As one can imagine, bone death poses serious health and quality of life risks for a patient.

Research in the use of platelet-rich-plasma in various osteonecrotic conditions has also reaped some pretty cool results. A review of the current literature explained that PRP therapy regenerates boney tissue via inducing the creation of blood and bone cells, reducing the body’s inflammatory response, and reducing regular cell death during the regrowth process, making it a recommended supplement to autologous bone grafts.

In a study of 46 patients with trauma-induced bone death in the hip, 24 were treated with PRP-incorporated bone grafts and 24 were treated with standard granular bone grafts. The PRP-incorporated group showed significantly more effective healing (91.7% compared to 68.2% reached the clinical minimum), and successful clinical and x-ray results were observed in 87.5% of the PRP-incorporated group versus 50% of the control. On top of all that, less patients in the PRP group required subsequent hip surgeries than in the group treated with standard bone grafts.

A holistic, non-invasive and regenerative therapy, PRP’s ability to regenerate healthy, proportional tissues anywhere in the body, whether skin, bone or fascia, presents an opportunity for major wound healing in conditions where the dead tissue would have previously been amputated.

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