PRP

What is PRP?

PRP is the abbreviation for an innovative and versatile treatment called platelet rich plasma. The human blood is a fluid that is made up of many parts. The fluid is called the plasma and contains the solid components of the blood which has many different functions. Platelet rich plasma is a therapy used in many situations that uses platelets derived from the patient’s own body as a treatment.

Among the parts of the human blood is the red blood cell which brings oxygen around the body and the white blood cells which plays an important role in the immune system in the body in fighting infections.

There is also another component called the platelet. Platelet are little fragments that has a role in the process of blood clotting. It is important because without platelets, when we get cuts the body cannot heal the cuts and may bleed profusely. When platelet levels are too low, the body can even start bleeding internally without any trauma. Platelets also stimulate growth factors which help in growth and healing of tissue.

How effective is PRP for Joint Pain?

The use of PRP for joint pain, and also in general, is in its early stages. Many studies have showed benefits while others have stated that it is not better than placebo. However, many believe that it is indeed a promising treatment.

So, how is PRP relevant to joint pain? It is good to first understand what causes joint pain. The leading cause of joint pain is osteoarthritis. This is a condition that generally affects the elderly population and the older one gets, the more likely one is to get this condition.

Osteoarthritis can affect all joints and most commonly affects the knees, hips, shoulders, thumb and spine. These joints have shock absorbers called cartilage situated within the joint. As one ages, these cartilage gets subject to wear-and-tear. Injury or misuse of the joints accelerate this process.

PRP comes into play in treating joint pain that is caused by osteoarthritis. It is believed that the injection of the affected joints can stimulate the growth of cartilage. With the regeneration of these natural cushions, the pain from the friction between bones will be greatly reduced.

Who is a good candidate for PRP for joint pain?

Traditionally, the way to deal with joint pains caused by osteoarthritis was stepwise. The first step was to implement lifestyle changes with the main aim of the change being to lose weight reducing pressure on the joints and also to exercise to preserve and improve mobility. In the meantime, symptoms of pain is dealt with painkillers. There are also supplements to encourage cartilage growth but their efficacy is questionable.

After lifestyle intervention and analgesia, the final step to take for joint pains that affect someone’s lifestyle adversely is surgical intervention which involves replacing the joints. Hip and knee replacements are very common operations.

As PRP is still a new intervention, there is no clear guidelines to guide as to when it is considered appropriate in the flowchart for treating joint pains with platelet rich therapy. It would be logical to think that it can be advantageous for the person who wants to or needs to avoid surgery but needs more aggressive interventions than a lifestyle change. However, there have not been enough studies to compare all the modalities to make that recommendation.

It is best to speak to a doctor for advice with regards to this matter. The specialists that deal with joint problems are rheumatologists and orthopedic surgeons.

Advantages of PRP for joint pain

One of the advantages of PRP over surgical replacement is that it is a non-invasive procedure which means the risks are considerably less. An operation exposes a person to risks such as infection, blood loss, allergies to anesthetic agent and failure of surgery requiring revision.

Another advantage of PRP is that the plasma rich platelet is derived from the patient’s own body. This mean that the body will not reject the substance as a foreign body and there will be no reaction. The platelet is derived by centrifuging the patient’s own blood.

What other conditions can be treated using PRP (Please attach link to other pages like PRP hair and face)

Due to the action of platelet being able to stimulate cell growth, PRP therapy has also shown promise in other area aside from treating joint pain. They include:

  • Regenerating new hair for those experiencing hair loss: PRP has been shown to stimulate the stem cells in the scalp to regenerate follicular units. A follicle is a unit where a hair grows out of from the scalp. This treatment can be done in conjunction with surgical hair transplant to optimise healing and hair growth.
  • Reducing wrinkles on the face: Wrinkles are caused by the reduced production of collagen. Collagen is the building block for a voluminous and elastic skin. As we age, collagen production becomes less and PRP can stimulate collagen production.

What is the cost of PRP treatment?

The cost of PRP is dependent on the number of injections and site of injections with the price range starting from RM800.

Speak to a doctor to determine the suitability of the treatment, the appropriate plan for you and also to discuss quotes and payment schedule.

How many sessions are required to cure the pain?

As mentioned above, PRP therapy is still in the early stages of its usage and hence, different centers will have different regimens based on what they think is effective. As the practice develops and more studies are done, the treatment will be standardized. Speak to your doctor to find out the best practice for you. Generally, some studies have looked at a single injection and assessed the effects over the next year and found it to be effective.

Potential Pros and Cons of PRP

To summaries, the pros of PRP is that it is a non-invasive treatment which is very low risk. It also makes use of the body’s own platelets which means there is no reaction to the injection.

The general con would be that it is still early in its use hence, there are no standard guidelines with regards to administration and formulation. This leads to variation of effects seen in individuals.