How PRP Helps to Heal Tendonitis
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatments are not only used to restore the youthful look of areas of the body such as the face, neck, and chest. The PRP injection can also be used to treat internal issues such as tendonitis.
To completely comprehend the advantages of PRP injections, it is helpful to understand the fundamental science associated with tendon and ligament traumas.
Tendons and string ligaments are actually composed of collagen fibers. When the fibers are damaged, they are attributed to an injury. These fibers are vascular, meaning they are filled with blood vessels. Therefore, they bleed when they are damaged, and if the area bleeds enough, it will begin to bruise. The area will start to heal when the blood flow is increased to the injury. The platelets in the blood help to heal the injured tissue through producing new collagen fibers. In order for the area to heal properly and function the way it did prior to injury, the collagen fibers have to form in an organized manner.
One side effect to this treatment exists when the PRP does not aid in producing new collagen fibers but instead creates scar tissue. When this happens, the injected area which is now covered in scar tissue is at risk of not receiving enough blood flow to produce the necessary platelets and healing elements. The progressive growth of the scar tissue further constrains the injured area from receiving its needed blood flow. When scar tissue forms, it prohibits vascularization (the creation of small blood vessels), causing the area to become blocked, disabling it from healing properly. This is why sometimes this treatment is effective and sometimes it is not.
When this treatment and similar procedures produce scar tissue rather than good results, patients will often resort to pain medications, physical therapy, and other remedies. Although these may be solutions that will treat pain and inflammation, they won’t treat the lurking problem of scar tissue and lack of blood flow. As a result of this, many patients will choose to receive surgery or settle and live with the pain.
PRP is a solution to the underlying problem. During this procedure, the patient’s blood is taken and spun in a centrifuge to separate the red blood cells from the platelet-rich plasma (PRP). With nothing else added, the PRP is used as a natural growth factor to stimulate tissue healing. Since this treatment uses only the patient’s own blood, there is no risk of allergic reaction.
After the platelets are removed from the blood, your provider will use an ultrasound machine to pinpoint the exact tendon that is damaged. The doctor then uses a fine needle to precisely insert the PRP into the injured tendon. Once the plasma is injected to the injury, the healing process will initiate and the tissue will begin to regenerate.
This method has been greatly used in areas of Europe for many years and is beginning to gain popularity in the United States. Although this is not a new procedure, more research is continuing to be conducted, causing people to become familiar with the great results that this treatment will produce. Other alternatives such as prolotherapy have been tried. Prolotherapy attempts to heal the damaged tissue through injecting an irritant to the injured area to increase blood flow. By injecting PRP rather than an irritant to the damaged area, the necessary healing factors contained in the plasma are sent to repair the injury and also assist in speeding up the healing process of a recovering injury. PRP is an effective treatment for those with a stubborn chronic injury and also those with an acute injury that they want to heal quicker. PRP is gaining popularity among athletes due to its effectiveness and quick healing process.
PRP therapy has proven to be greatly effective in treating the following conditions:
Acute and chronic tendon injuries (tendonitis, tendinosis, tendinopathy, tendon tears) to the following areas:
Foot and ankle: Plantar fasciitis
– Achilles tendonitis and partial tears
Knee: Patellar tendonitis and tears
– Quadriceps tendonitis and tears
Thigh: Hamstring strains
Elbow: Medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow)
– Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
Shoulder: Rotator cuff tendonitis and partial tears
Acute and chronic ligament injuries (sprains) on the following areas:
- Foot and Ankle
- And many other conditions involving scarred or non-healing tissue.
Recent studies have proven that PRP is also successful in treating osteoarthritis (OA). This diagnosis is an inflammatory issue which causes destruction of joint cartilage. Studies have demonstrated that PRP is effective in treating arthritis symptoms, although it is unclear whether the treatment regrows lost cartilage or only slows down the process of cartilage breakdown. It has also been proven that PRP works better than hyaluronic acid injection treatments such as viscosupplementation. PRP may be the non-invasive treatment that you have been searching for to effectively heal your arthritis in areas such as the shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, and foot.