Platelet-rich plasma therapy, commonly known as PRP therapy, has been available for more than a decade now and continues to gain popularity. Recently, a high school teacher in Colorado, Floyd Aker, received PRP therapy in his shoulder and was able to avoid orthopedic surgery.
How does PRP therapy work?
The underlying principle of PRP therapy is to allow the body to heal itself. Aker thought it was a pretty neat concept when his orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Chris Jones, explained it to him. A sample of his blood was drawn and centrifuged to separate the platelets. The platelet-rich plasma was then injected back at the site of injury. Platelets contain a high concentration of growth factors. When the body is injured, platelets are the first responders. PRP therapy harnesses this healing power of platelets. Interestingly, patients who receive PRP therapy recover much faster. Surgery and rehab for the type of injury Mr. Aker had would have taken up to 12 months of recovery.
Is PRP therapy painful?
PRP therapy is an outpatient office procedure. The injections are given under local anesthetic, and while they may be uncomfortable, the discomfort is short-lived. The amount of pain is also dependent on the site of injury and injection as well as the individual patient’s pain threshold. Dr. Jones says the pain is tolerable for most patients and the doctor can usually numb things up to keep the patient comfortable.
How quickly does PRP therapy work?
In Mr. Aker’s case, the injections were mildly painful but worth it for the excellent results. Once the local anesthetic wore off, he did feel some soreness and pain. For the first three days, he could not move his arm above waist level, but on the fourth day, he had a return of full range of motion in his shoulder.