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Our bodies are designed to heal, but sometimes healing stagnates, leaving chronic pain in its wake. Some treatments for pain only cover up symptoms and can even be addictive or have other harmful side effects. Treating the underlying issue causing your pain is the best way to find lasting relief.

Here’s everything you need to know about the healing process and how to leverage it with PRP injections.

The Healing Process

When the body receives an injury, it immediately sends healing cells to the area via blood flow. These cells initiate a four-stage healing process. First, they stop excess bleeding and form a scab. The second phase overlaps with the first, as the body immediately mounts an immune response to kill invading microbes. This is called the inflammation phase because the area will be inflamed and possibly swollen or warm to the touch. It will also hurt.

The third stage of healing requires cells to produce collagen and build new tissues that will strengthen during the final stage of healing. This process aims to create strong, functional tissues to replace damaged ones. After new tissue is in place, inflammation should cease. In fact, the inflammation stage should last for less than a week. New tissue should be in place between four to six weeks. At this point, the wound should no longer hurt, and tissues should continue strengthening for several weeks.

Wounds that still cause pain after twelve weeks (or six weeks for minor injuries) are considered chronic injuries. These typically happen due to a stalled healing process.

Blood flow is vital to healing because it brings white blood cells and platelets to the area. Platelets send chemical messages that prompt cells to perform tissue-creating tasks. When the injured area doesn’t receive robust blood flow, the healing process can stall, creating chronic low-level inflammation and pain. A stalled healing process doesn’t do a good job creating strong tissues and leaves the area vulnerable to repeated injury.

How PRP Helps

PRP or platelet-rich plasma injections can jumpstart a stalled healing process by sending platelets to the injured area. Remember, platelets are chemical messengers found in blood flow that give instructions to your cells so they can produce new tissues and finish the healing process.

Your provider will isolate platelets by drawing your blood and processing it in a centrifuge to separate the clear liquid plasma from red blood cells and platelets. They then mix the platelets with a small amount of plasma and inject them into the injured area. The platelets go to work, reducing inflammation and encouraging tissue growth, resulting in less pain.

Your provider may use an X-ray or other scan to help them correctly place the shot within the joint and will numb the area to minimize discomfort.

Conditions PRP Treats

Poor circulation isn’t something that only happens due to aging or medical conditions. Some parts of the body, like joints, spinal disc spaces, tendons, and ligaments, always have poor circulation. That’s why injuries to these structures are prone to slow healing and chronic discomfort.

PRP shots are often used to treat joint injuries and arthritis, and problems affecting spinal discs and facet joints. Providers also use them to assist in healing rotator cuff injuries and other injuries involving tendons and ligaments. These applications are common because these areas often suffer from slow healing. Even though muscle injuries typically heal well, PRP can be used to speed the healing process and encourage healthier, stronger tissue repair.

Multiple studies indicate that PRP improves function and pain relief in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, rotator cuff strains and tears, and other overuse injuries. It has also been successfully used to treat acute injuries such as ACL tears, muscle strains, and sprained ankles.

What to Expect After Treatment

PRP is one of the safest treatments available. Since it uses the patient’s blood, there’s no risk of an allergic reaction, drug-related side effects, or disease transfer. The risks that come with any injection, such as bleeding and infection, are extremely rare when a licensed provider performs PRP.

Since PRP uses natural components to stimulate a natural process, the results don’t happen overnight. PRP stimulates healing, and the healing process can take several weeks to complete. Patients typically notice a difference in their pain after about four weeks and continue to improve for several weeks. Even after noticeable pain relief is achieved, healing will continue for six to nine months.

Patients with acute injuries typically experience complete healing with one PRP treatment. Those with chronic conditions like arthritis notice significant pain relief and increased function. These patients typically need a booster shot after about one year. PRP does not heal arthritis, but it can slow the progression, and when used in the early stages, it may prevent the need for surgery.


Who is a Candidate for PRP?

Patients who are anemic or have other blood disorders and certain cancers are not good candidates for PRP. People with advanced bone-on-bone arthritis are also not good candidates since they lack tissues within the joint.

PRP is an ideal treatment for those with acute injuries who want to heal faster and increase their chances of strong healing without excess scar tissue. It’s also perfect for patients with chronic joint or back pain looking for safe, long-lasting pain relief. Unlike steroid injections, PRP can last up to a year, and there are no limits on how many shots you can safely receive. PRP promotes healing and slows the progression of chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, while oral medications just cover up symptoms. Taking oral medications long-term can cause serious side effects. PRP offers a safer solution and gives chronic pain patients freedom from having to treat their pain daily.

PRP Injections in Houston

At Vanguard Spine and Sport, our experienced PRP providers help patients heal from pain and get back to life. Schedule a consultation today to find out if PRP is right for you.