Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy has made a name for itself among elite athletes. Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez, and Kobe Bryant have all reported reaping the benefits of PRP, and the locker rooms of many professional sports teams contain centrifuges, a machine that is integral in the PRP process. However, if soft tissue injuries are keeping you from doing the activities you love, you do not have to be an elite athlete to enjoy the benefits of PRP.
How does Platelet Rich Plasma therapy work?
The blood in the human body is made up of four main components. Over fifty percent of our blood is plasma. Plasma is the liquid part of the blood, made up of water, salts, and proteins. The rest of our blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Each of these components serves a different function within the body. Red blood cells make up approximately 40 percent of our blood, carrying oxygen throughout the body and giving blood its characteristic red color. These red blood cells outnumber white blood cells approximately 600 to 1. White blood cells, while fewer in number, are essential to fighting infections within the body. The last component, platelets, are best known for their role in blood clotting. For example, if one of your blood vessels is damaged, it will signal to the body that it needs platelets to stream to the site of injury to form a clot, and the platelets will then work to repair the damage. If a body’s platelet count is low, it means that the body cannot properly form blood clots, which can be fatal. Platelets can perform this essential healing function because they contain specific proteins referred to as growth factors. As platelets rush to the site of injury to begin clotting, these growth factors start the process of regeneration and healing by activating the body’s biological healing process.
Platelet Rich Plasma therapy capitalizes on the healing capacities of the growth factors in platelets. PRP treatment begins by drawing blood from the patient. This blood is then put into a centrifuge, a machine which spins the blood at high speeds to separate the liquids from solids or fluids of different densities. In this case, the centrifuge separates the platelet and growth factor rich portion of the blood from the red and white blood cells. This platelet rich blood is then injected back into the patient at the site of injury. Once injected at the site, PRP actively stimulates healing for about 24 hours.
To take advantage of PRP’s effectiveness, some regenerative health practitioners will combine PRP therapy with Ozone Therapy. This treatment, called Ozone Clot Matrix (OCM), combines whole blood with activated platelets that is then mixed with ozone gas. Whole blood allows the body to maximize the healing effects of oxygenated red blood cells and the stimulated white blood cells that help to clean up the damaged tissue. This concentrated blend of ozone and nourishing blood forms a matrix which allows the PRP to augment healing at the site of injection, and OCM helps the therapy to work efficiently for two weeks rather than 24 hours. This greatly increases the rate of regeneration and the potency of the treatment in comparison to PRP therapy used in isolation.
PRP therapy also relies on the repairing function of stem cells. When injected, PRP assists the release of stem cells from vessel walls which then intensifies tissue repair. Your regenerative medicine practitioner may also suggest adding mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) injection therapy to your treatment plan alongside OCM or PRP therapies. Together, these two injection therapies have a synergistic effect which supports your body in healing even more quickly. PRP therapy is also generally used in conjunction with physical therapy to maximize benefits and speed up recovery times.