At Massapequa Podiatry Associates, we offer a number of advanced conservative treatments to help our patients recover from heel pain and other painful foot and ankle injuries. Platelet-rich plasma therapy, known as PRP for short, is one such therapy we often recommend for pain that hasn’t responded to more traditional remedies, or for patients who simply want a faster path to recovery.
PRP is a safe, drug-free treatment that uses your body’s own blood and cells to accelerate the natural healing process. It’s been popular with professional athletes since the ‘90s and early 2000s, but it can help you, too!
What Is Plasma? And What Are Platelets?
Plasma refers to the fluid portion of your blood, which all your blood cells “swim” around in. It makes up about 55 percent of your blood by volume.
Platelets are tiny cellular fragments that make up a very small portion (less than 1%) of your blood by volume. Platelets are best known for being the “stuff” that allows your blood to clot so it can close wounds. However, platelets are also rich in growth factors and other vital proteins that your body uses to help repair and regenerate damaged tissues.
The vast majority of the rest of your blood volume (roughly 44-45 percent) is made up of red blood cells, which carry oxygen.
What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy?
With platelets, your body has a great source of nutrients to help repair damaged tissue and relieve pain. And because these are your own cells, they are obviously highly compatible with your biology. But under normal circumstances, they make up a very small portion of your blood.
In PRP therapy, we draw a sample of your blood, then use a special centrifuge to separate the mixture into its individual components. From there, we can remove the red blood cells and recombine the platelets with some of the plasma. This creates a mixture that has a much higher concentration of platelets than baseline blood—or in other words, it’s platelet-rich plasma.
Once the blood is fully prepared, we can inject it into the area that is currently experiencing pain. The body can then use the growth factors and nutrients supplied by the platelets to accelerate repair work and help you recover faster.
What Conditions Can Be Treated with PRP?
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is typically recommended for soft tissue injuries, including both chronic pain and acute traumas. This includes most forms of heel pain, including plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis, as well as ankle sprains, pulled muscles, and other sports injuries.
PRP is often combined with other therapies, including shockwave therapy, to help maximize its effectiveness. We may also recommend treatments such as custom orthotics to address an underlying cause of your injury, such as flat feet or a gait abnormality.
Keep in mind that not every person or every instance of the above conditions may be best suited for platelet-rich plasma therapy. We will carefully review all your treatment options with you and help you determine the best choice for your situation.
Summarizing the Main Benefits of PRP
Some of the biggest reasons to consider PRP therapy include:
- Convenience. Most people only need one injection during the course of their treatment plan, and the appointment usually takes less than an hour.
- Short-term results. Although individual results vary from person to person, around 85% of patients report a noticeable improvement in their symptoms after using PRP. The healthier you are, the more likely PRP will provide substantial benefits.
- Long-term results. Since PRP helps accelerate the healing process (rather than just mask pain, like a cortisone shot), pain is less likely to return later.
- Safety. PRP is drug-free and made from nothing other than your body’s own cells, so the risk of severe side effects is extremely low. At most you might experience some minor discomfort from the injection itself.
If you’ve recently suffered a foot or ankle injury, or you’ve been dealing with chronic pain for a long time, please give the team at Massapequa Podiatry Associates a call. PRP is just one of the many effective and advanced non-surgical treatment options we have available, and we are confident that we will be able to put together a treatment plan that can greatly help you. Just give us a call at (516) 541-9000 or use the contact form at the bottom of this page.