You wake up, shut off your alarm, and lie still in bed — you don’t want to move just yet. After a few moments of pain-free bliss, you groan, sit up, and painstakingly get yourself out of bed. Every step of your morning routine is marred by joint pain.
Is that a daily scenario for you?
If so, it might be time to consider platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy for arthritis pain. Dr. Dominique Nickson of Next Step Orthopedics, an expert in arthritis therapies, explains how this treatment works and how it can restore your quality of life.
What is PRP therapy?
To understand PRP therapy, it helps to first understand the structure of your blood. Your blood has three components: plasma (the liquid part), platelets (fragments of blood cells), and the blood cells themselves.
Platelets contain special proteins called growth factors that are important for your body’s healing processes. These growth factors stimulate cellular repair and act as signaling, or communication, molecules for your cells.
To make platelet-rich plasma, Dr. Nickson takes blood from your arm and spins it around in a centrifuge until the three components of your blood separate. Then, he combines the platelets and the plasma and — voilà! — platelet-rich plasma. Dr. Nickson then injects the PRP back into your body at the site of your injury or pain.
How PRP therapy works for arthritis
Arthritis is an inflammatory disease of the joints. Experts believe that the growth factors in PRP can reduce inflammation in the joints, thereby leading to reduced pain and stiffness.
When treating arthritis with PRP therapy, Dr. Nickson aims to reduce pain in the affected joint or joints, improve joint function, and possibly slow or halt further tissue damage. After PRP therapy, the primary benefits you’ll notice are that you can move more freely with less pain and that your joints seem more mobile.
Am I a good candidate for PRP therapy?
Generally, anyone with healthy blood can benefit from PRP therapy. You’re an especially good candidate if:
- You have arthritis in the knees, elbows, feet, or hands
- Pain from your arthritis prevents you from completing daily activities, like cooking
- Physical therapy hasn’t helped
- Other conservative treatments have failed to help
- Steroid injections haven’t reduced your pain
- Over-the-counter pain medications don’t reduce your pain
To learn more about PRP therapy, check out our PRP therapy FAQ.