Tackling Arthritis Using the Power Of Platelets
Regenerative medicine is a hot topic on the arthritis treatment front. This discipline seeks to aid your body’s natural healing systems, providing them with greater resources. Regenerative medicine can also relieve pain and may even reverse the course of diseases, such as arthritis, that are currently incurable.
With the move away from opioid pain medications, doctors turn to platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy for a natural way to manage arthritis pain while slowing the progress of the condition. Dr. Carolyn Kochert here at Dr. Kochert Pain & Health specializes in contemporary regenerative medicine techniques and treatments. She can help you tap the healing power of platelets for your arthritis.
The principles behind PRP
Platelets are the particles in blood that are best known for forming clots to stop bleeding when you’re cut. They’re key to the start of your body’s natural repair system which heals most minor cuts invisibly, with no sign the skin was ever damaged.
Platelets also carry substances called growth factors that help control the healing process, including stem cell stimulation. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells, and when activated, they convert from this generic form into the kind of cell the body needs.
The growth factors in platelets are part of the activation process to tell stem cells to turn into differentiated cells, which are those with a single purpose, such as forming new skin or cartilage.
How quickly you heal is partly dependent on your blood supply. Platelets arrive at the scene of a body repair based on how well that area is vascularized. Cartilage in the joints has little blood supply, so without plenty of blood vessels in the vicinity, it receives few of the healing benefits of fresh blood and abundant platelets.
Of course, most forms of arthritis cause the deterioration of cartilage, allowing for painful bone-on-bone contact. It’s thought that by improving the supply of platelets to an area of deterioration, your body can repair damage faster.
PRP to the rescue
Concentrating platelets into an injectable serum is surprisingly easy, not to mention safe, drug-free, and biocompatible. Your PRP injection starts with us taking a small blood sample from your arm, done the same way you’d normally give blood for testing purposes.
This sample, typically about two teaspoons, is separated in a centrifuge to produce three layers. Red blood cells are the heaviest, so they sink to the bottom, leaving a clearer plasma solution at the top. There’s a narrow layer between these, where your platelets are concentrated, up to ten times denser than in your whole blood.
The platelets are mixed with a small amount of the plasma to create your PRP, which is then ready for injection into an arthritic joint. The point of damage is bathed in PRP, greatly boosting the resources available to your body for repair.
Though the precise mechanisms for PRP are still under study, it’s thought that PRP helps your body:
- Regenerate new cartilage tissue
- Reduce inflammation at the site of joint deterioration
- Reduce pain sensations in the joint
- Create more synovial fluid, the natural lubrication supporting many joints
PRP may be part of the next revolution in arthritis treatment. It’s safe and drug-free, and it works well in conjunction with other therapies. In many cases, it can reduce dependence on pain medications. There’s little risk and much potential benefit.
If you’d like to tackle your arthritis with PRP treatment, contact Dr. Kochert Pain & Health by phone or book online to arrange a consultation. Telehealth appointments are available now, too.