What is PRP?
Originally used in 1987, PRP or platelet-rich plasma was used to promote healing in dentistry, orthopedics and plastic surgery.
However, in more recent years, Toronto PRP injections have been proven effective in treating chronic and acute musculoskeletal conditions.
PRP injections stimulate and accelerate the body’s natural repair process in times of injury and trauma. The injections are prepared using roughly 20-60 ml of the patient’s own blood, which is beneficial because it minimizes risks and potential side effects. The small amount of harvested blood is separated into its different components (red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma) by a centrifuge. The component of blood that carries the highest concentration of platelets for PRP is extracted and then injected into the target area to stimulate the body’s natural healing process.
What are platelets?
Platelets are cells in the human circulatory system that are responsible for blood clotting and facilitating the healing cascade. When an injury occurs, they are the first to respond and be recruited to prevent excessive bleeding. More important than their ability to clot blood, platelets also release several growth factors that are necessary to signal other cells, such as stem cells, for repair and healing.
How do PRP injections work?
The delivery of platelets to the site of soft tissue injury is the body’s first response. The release of growth factors from the recruited platelets initiate repair, promote healing and send chemical signals to attract stem cells for help, promote cell migration and stimulate cell division. Taking advantage of its properties, PRP injections into the problematic area of the body intensifies the body’s natural ability to heal by delivering a high concentration of platelets.
Where in the body can PRP injections treat?
The current medical studies with PRP injections have shown that it is most effective for treating chronic tendon injuries, specifically the ones affecting the elbows, knees and ankles. PRP injections have also demonstrated its used in healing muscles, ligaments and even intervertebral discs.
Which conditions will benefit the most from PRP injections?
As mentioned, PRP injections are very effective for treating chronic ligament and tendon sprains. However, it is not limited to this. PRP injections can be an alternative treatment for many conditions including:
- Lumbar spine disc pain
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Shoulder instability and pain
- Tennis elbow
- Hamstring and hip strains
- Knee instability and sprains
- Patellofemoral syndrome and patellar tendonitis
- Ankle sprains
- Achilles tendonitis
- Plantar fasciitis
- Osteoarthritis in the knee, hip and other joints
- Carpal tunnel syndrome and other nerve entrapment syndromes
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
- Cervical and lumbar facet dysfunction
How to prepare for a PRP injection?
PRP injections are completed on an outpatient basis, so you will be able to go home and return to your daily activities the day of the procedure.
A typical session at our clinic for a PRP injection will take between 45-90 minutes.
If you take certain medications such as NSAIDs, corticosteroids and anticoagulants, you may need to stop prior to the procedure. Certain examples of such medications include ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin.
What to expect from a PRP injection?
After a PRP injection, patients may experience some local bruising and tenderness at the site of injection for a few days. Within a few weeks of the injection, initial improvement can be felt and it gradually increases as the healing progresses. Ultrasound and MRI images have definitively shown repair of tissues after the administration of PRP, and patients have been able to return to their normal lives after effectively relieving their chronic pains.
When thinking about PRP injections as a treatment alternative, there are certain considerations. PRP injections are not recommended for those who suffer from bleeding disorders, ongoing infections and cancer. It is also not advised for patients who are taking anti-coagulation medications and pregnant women.
If you are receiving a PRP injection for your lower extremities, we recommend arranging transportation home. If the pain is severe, we may prescribe the use of crutches for a few days after the injection.
What is Toronto PRP injection recovery like?
Following the first 24-48 hours of your PRP injection, you may ice the treated area for 20 minutes every two to three hours to help with the tenderness, swelling and bruising. Some redness is also expected at the injection site and considered normal after a PRP injection. However, if you notice any progressive swelling, redness or fever, it is important to notify our clinic for a medical assessment, in case of infection.
How often should PRP injections be given?
Within a six-month timeframe, PRP injections are safe to be administered up to three times. These are typically performed two to three weeks apart. However, some patients have gained a significant amount of improvement in their pain after the first or second PRP injection.
What are some associated risks and side effects?
The brilliance of PRP injections is the autologous nature of the procedure.
PRP is harvested from the patient’s own blood, therefore the chance of an adverse reaction is almost zero. However, side effects are possible, even when rare. The most common side effects are local infection and pain at the injection site. The pain can be caused by the acidity of non-buffered PRP injections, but we are able to circumvent this by adding a small amount of sodium bicarbonate to neutralize the pH and alleviate the pain. Furthermore, a local anesthetic can be administered to help manage the pain of the injection.
Although rare, about one in ten patients can experience a “flare” reaction after their PRP injection. This results in intense pain and can be managed with prescribed pain medications. If this does occur, please notify our medical team.
Our team at Painless Medicine and Therapeutics focuses on improving our patient’s pain conditions.
Our goal and philosophy is to make the patient’s therapeutic experience as painless as possible by finding a therapeutic plan that best treats their symptoms and lifestyle. We truly believe in collaboration and working closely with patients so that they have control over their medication, and so that the treatment aligns with our clinic’s values.
In cases where chronic pain cannot be cured, but instead must be effectively managed, our team’s purpose is to limit the complications and to minimize the severity of the symptoms experienced by the patient. We wish to optimize our patients’ control over their pain so they feel enabled to be the best possible version of themselves and enjoy life again.
If you are suffering from a chronic pain condition, we highly suggest that you visit our clinic in Toronto to see what we can do for you.