Platelet Rich Plasma: A Game-Changer in Treating Aging Joints

You used to be able to hop up in the morning and spend all day in activity — cleaning the house, doing yard work, going for a run, playing tennis, and more — without feeling anything beyond some mild soreness.

But now, as you get older, you’re feeling stiff and achy, especially in your joints, so it’s not quite as easy to bounce into activity as it used to be.

As millions of Baby Boomers become ever-older, they’re finding more and more that degenerative arthritis is playing a larger role in their life.

But take heart! A new branch of medicine, called regenerative medicine, is providing hope that you can continue your active lifestyle without pain in your joints. Specifically, platelet-rich plasma is a new therapy offered by the expert team at Sensor Medica Clinic in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Here’s why this exciting new therapy might just be a game changer for older adults with joint pain.

The foe: arthritis

Arthritis affects 54 million Americans, and the Arthritis Foundation expects this number to rise exponentially by 2040, to a whopping 78 million people, driven mainly by the large number of aging Baby Boomers.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that affects the cartilage of 31 million of these arthritis sufferers. Cartilage is the slippery substance on the ends of your bones that protects them and keeps them from rubbing together and causing you great pain. It plays an important role in keeping your joints functioning smoothly, but if you have osteoarthritis, it causes your cartilage to break down.

As arthritis takes hold, this breakdown of your cartilage leaves you with stiff, painful joints, especially in your knees, hips, hands, neck, and lower back. Because cartilage cannot regenerate itself easily, your condition only gets worse.

Platelets to the rescue

Your blood contains four main ingredients: red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, and platelets. Besides causing your blood to clot properly, your platelets also are vital to your body’s ability to heal itself through regeneration. This happens because your platelets secrete growth factors and other proteins that jump into action when they reach tissue that’s damaged, helping regulate your cells in order to stimulate tissue regeneration and healing.

The idea behind platelet-rich plasma therapy is to concentrate and redirect these resources to where your body needs them most. We start this process by drawing some of your own blood and spinning it in a centrifuge to extract out the platelets. Once they are isolated, we mix the platelets back into a small amount of your plasma and inject this new concentrate directly into the joints that are giving you problems. 

To give you an idea of how strong our PRP injections are, your normal blood contains 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter. Once we separate out your platelets, we create a concentrate that’s anywhere from three to nine times higher than normal, depending upon the strength we’re aiming for.

This plasmas mixture is so rich in growth-inducing platelets that it gives a strong signal to your body to begin generating new tissue to help support your painful joints. PRP injections also work to reduce inflammation, which helps relieve your pain and restore more movement to your joint.

Early results

This exciting therapy is relatively new, but preliminary studies show that PRP injections work very well in patients with osteoarthritis. For example, a 2013 study followed 78 patients with osteoarthritis. Those who were given one or two PRP injections in both of their knees had less pain and stiffness as well as improved function after six weeks, three months, and six months, while those who were given placebo injections noticed an increase in pain and a decrease in function.

If you’d like to explore for yourself how PRP injections can help with your arthritis, please call  Sensor Medica Clinic or use our convenient online scheduler to book your own appointment.

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