Platelet-rich plasma therapy has been in clinical use since the 1970’s, but only risen to popularity in recent years. Its use began in orthopedic repairs, but has lately been extended to cosmetic surgery, podiatry, neurosurgery, dentistry and ophthalmology. Media-fueled patient interest has increased the used of platelet-rich plasma as a therapeutic alternative. Since popular athletes such as Tiger Woods and Hines Ward have reported the use of platelet-rich plasma therapy for sports injury treatment, the popularity of using platelet-rich plasma has soared.
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
Platelet-rich plasma is made from a portion of a patient’s own blood. During the process, the blood is centrifuged to collect the blood platelets into plasma at a concentration 3 to 5 times that of native plasma. Platelets contain numerous grow factors, as well as substances important to wound healing. Once activated, platelet-rich plasma is used to accelerate healing and enhance tissue regeneration.
What Does Platelet-Rich Plasma Do?
Some of the major growth factor proteins in platelet-rich plasma include transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta), platelet-derived growth factors (PDGF), insulin-like growth factor (IGF) and vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF). TGF-beta stimulates cellular matrix growth, while VEGF accelerates blood vessel formation. Each growth factor has a particular role in tissue healing and regeneration, some more beneficial than others.
As an injury progresses beyond the initial growth factor inflammatory phase, cellular multiplication and remodeling occur. Along with growth factors, platelet-rich plasma also contains numerous proteins that assist the body in building scaffolds to support the invasion of new cellular growth. Scaffold components include fibronectin, vitronectin and collagen. Since the healing components of blood have been concentrated within platelet-rich plasma, it is proposed that such plasma has the ability to greatly accelerate wound healing and maybe even decrease scar formation in the process.
The potential of platelet-rich plasma therapy to regenerate tissues depends on the levels of released proteins. The concentration of the proteins will vary depending on the patient’s platelet concentration, the processing technique and the activation phase. Since growth and healing proteins have to be released from the platelets before they can be measured, the method chosen for activation may provide more or less release of such factors. Also, the platelet concentration may not always predict the levels of protein factors.
While the clinical use of platelet rich plasma therapy shows much promise as a regenerative treatment for many conditions, especially patients with tennis elbow, knee pain, and shoulder injuries, it is important to discuss with your doctor what results to expect, and consider any alternatives which may be more effective in your situation.
If you are unsure of what is the best treatment option for your muscle or tendon injury, or if your condition has not improved despite standard treatments and have been told to consider surgery,
simply call us at +65 6732 2397 or leave a message below for Dr Tan to discuss a customized non-invasive solution for you.