In the past few years, we have been bombarded with the idea that stem cells may be the end all and be all of medicine. And although we are only in the beginning stages of seeing what this new field of medicine has in store for us, studies have shown that our excitement is warranted! This excitement is even being portrayed in the media. Recently on Grey's Anatomy, organs have even been replicated!! Although we have not replicated feet or arms or hearts yet, one day we will be able to do this! In fact, today we are using this very idea to help heel our patients! Now patients with chronic diseases and pain have hope and each day new breakthroughs are developing.
In podiatry, we have seen that now instead of needing donor skin grafts to heal wounds we often use skin substitutes. We also now use cells to help stimulate the healing process in patients with wounds and chronic pain. One of the easiest technologies that has exploded in the past few years is platelet-rich plasma, or PRP. PRP is blood plasma, taken from the individual patient, that has been enriched with platelets.To develop a PRP preparation, blood must first be drawn from a patient. The platelets are separated from other blood cells and their concentration is increased during a process called centrifugation. Then the increased concentration of platelets is combined with the remaining blood. As a concentrated source of platelets, PRP contains several different growth factors and other cytokines that stimulate healing of bone and soft tissue.
When do we use PRP? Because of the minimal side effects associated complications PRP is a great addition to most treatment plans! PRP can be injected into injured areas. For example, in tendonitis, a mixture of PRP and local anesthetic can be injected directly into inflamed tissue. PRP may also be used to improve healing after surgery. For example, an athlete with torn tendons or ligaments may require surgery. Healing of the torn tendon can be improved by treating the injured area with PRP during surgery. In addition with bone surgery, in particular with fusions, injection of PRP can help decrease healing time and improve outcomes.
Recently, because of the popularity of PRP in the media and its use in professional athletes many patients are beginning to ask whether PRP is a treatment option for them. If you think that you may benefit from PRP schedule an appointment today to discuss the treatment and how it can help you!