Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP): Why It's a Game-Changer for Treating Aging Joints

If you’re old enough to remember the children’s storybook character Uncle Wiggily Longears and his troubles with “rheumatism”, or arthritis, you’re probably old enough to have arthritis yourself. One of the stereotypes of aging is stiff, achy joints that just don’t work as smoothly or as freely as they once did.

Uncle Wiggily dealt with his “rheumatism” by walking with the aid of a barber-pole-striped cane. If you’ve noticed that it takes a while to get your joints working smoothly in the morning, or if you have chronic pain or stiffness in your joints, you can avoid Uncle Wiggily’s fate by restoring your joints with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy.

At Florida Medical Pain Management — a full-service pain management center with three convenient locations in St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Spring Hill, Florida — our team of professionals is dedicated to doing more than just relieving the pain and stiffness of your aging joints. After determining why your joints are stiff, their goal is to heal the underlying sources of your arthritis or other type of joint pain, and regenerative medicine such as PRP helps you do just that.

How your arm can help your joints

Your PRP therapy starts when your specialist takes a simple 2-4 tablespoon blood draw from your arm, almost as if you’re giving blood for a test, and puts it into a specially designed sterile centrifuge that separates the solid platelets from the liquid plasma.

Platelets are a part of your blood that look something like dinner plates. They’re smaller than white or red blood cells (the other solids in your blood) but these tiny cell fragments are powerful. Platelets are sticky and rich with proteins such as growth factors that plug up wounds, coagulate your blood, and help your blood vessels, skin, and other soft tissues heal.

Once your platelets are isolated from the rest of your blood, your specialist mixes them with a small amount of plasma. This super-concentrated platelet serum — PRP — is now ready to go to work helping your joints, including:

How PRP eases arthritis pain

Whether you have osteoarthritis — a wear-and-tear disease common with aging in which your protective joint cartilage dries up or degrades — or rheumatoid arthritis — an autoimmune disease — PRP can help. Your practitioner simply injects the PRP directly into your painful or injured joint.

The PRP — which has about 5-10 times the normal amount of platelets — suffuses the treatment area with growth factors, fibrin, and other healing agents. The growth factors help your body produce more fibrin and endothelial cells, which reduce inflammation in your joints. The PRP also prompts your body to increase the circulation of blood to the area by creating more healthy blood vessels.

Over a series of treatments, your body starts to rebuild injured cartilage. The PRP accelerates your body’s natural healing processes, which were overwhelmed by your disease. The PRP injections help your body get ahead of the game.

How PRP eases other types of joint pain

Of course, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis aren’t the only reasons for joint aches and pains. When you come to Florida Medical Pain Management, your specialist conducts a thorough physical examination and takes your personal and family history. Imaging tests may also be ordered to determine what’s at the root of your joint pain.

If you have a sprain, strain, or hairline fracture that’s making your joint painful and stiff, platelet-rich plasma helps you heal. Not only does the PRP increase the number of blood vessels in the area — so you get more oxygen and nutrients where you need them — PRP also boosts healing of bones and soft tissues such as muscles and tendons. With PRP, you give your body the edge it needs to restore itself to health sooner than it could on its own.

And because PRP comes from your own body, it’s 100% natural and free of side effects. You may have some initial soreness at the injection site, but that should disappear in a day or two. You start noticing an improvement in your pain and inflammation within weeks after your first treatment.

To get started on restoring your joints with PRP, contact one of our locations today. You can reach us by phone during office hours or book your own appointment whenever you like with our convenient online form.