Joint pain is serious issue, not only for those living with arthritis, but also for active youth and adults who strain and sprain their joints at work or on the playing field. Among the most common joint injuries are those affecting the foot and ankle. These joints take a lot of stress, supporting a person’s weight all day and “turning on a dime” when a change in direction is needed. It’s not surprising that these joints occasionally are overtaxed and painful.
Fortunately, there are a number of effective pain relief treatments. One of the newest, and one that offers great potential for healing and regeneration of damaged tissue, is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy.
What is platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP)?
PRP is a therapy derived from each patient’s own blood supply. It is blood plasma, which has been enriched with the patient’s platelets. PRP is used for tissue repair and is an effective clinical tool for other medical treatments, as well.
How does it work?
PRP therapy involves taking a small sample of the patient’s blood for processing in a centrifuge. The platelets are concentrated and the platelet rich plasma is injected into the damaged joint. The platelet rich plasma contains growth and healing factors that stimulate the production of newer, healthier cells to regenerate and restore bone and soft tissue.
How long does treatment take?
The introduction of PRP therapy usually takes less than an hour from the time the patient gets to the office, until the PRP injection is placed. The patient’s blood sample is taken and processed, then a topical anesthetic is applied at the injection site to control any discomfort while the PRP therapy is administered.
Results of PRP:
PRP is a low-risk therapy with a high-yield outcomes. About 85% of patients report improvement after Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy. Moreover, clinical practices have shown PRP therapy to be highly effective at minimizing pain. Initial improvement of joint pain may be achieved within a couple of weeks, with more significant pain relief being realized as healing progresses.:
Because each patient has unique injuries and medical history, it’s important to remember that PRP will not work for everyone. It is important to consult a physician skilled in the use of PRP because, in rare cases of improper injection, pain may actually increase.
Because PRP is such a new and innovative approach to joint pain and healing, patients should be aware that not all insurance carriers provide coverage for it.
Who can benefit from PRP therapy?
Many professional athletes are already using PRP on a regular basis to assist in healing muscle injuries and speed healing following surgery. No age limits have been established for patients seeking this treatment, so virtually any individual who is suffering from joint pain in the knee, ankle, or foot can benefit from this treatment.
When will improvement be noticeable?
One recent study involving 20 patients showed a 60% improvement after two months following treatment. One to three years later, patients who received PRP therapy reported a reduction of pain of 93%.
How many treatments are necessary?
Based on the severity of the injury, one treatment might be enough and provide significant relief. Generally, patients require additional PRP injections from three weeks up to six months following their initial treatment.