A Closer Look at Platelets and What They Can Do for You

A Closer Look at Platelets and What They Can Do for You

Your blood is vital to your ability to live and thrive. It’s made up of many different cells, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Although they’re the smallest, platelets pack a huge punch when it comes to blood clotting and regenerating tissues. In fact, they’re harvested and used in an injection known as platelet-rich plasma (PRP).

At Orthopaedic Specialists, our team provides expert care when you’re dealing with a musculoskeletal problem. Dr. Brandon Downs is our in-house orthopaedic specialist, who takes advantage of the platelets your body provides to help you heal from the inside out.

Understanding platelets

As one of the main components of your blood, platelets make up the solid portion, along with other cells. Plasma is the liquid component, which allows the cells to make it to other areas of your body.

Platelets play a key role in blood clotting and are one of the first cells to respond when you’re injured. They’re actually the smallest cells that formulate your blood, which makes it even more impressive how they work.

Anytime that you cut your skin and bleeding occurs, platelets respond immediately. Think of them as your body’s form of a bandage on a wound. When they’re activated, the platelets clump together, which forms a blood clot. 

The blood clot basically clogs the vessel that’s bleeding, preventing too much blood from exiting your body. However, that’s not the only way platelets are able to help.

Platelets also contain very powerful growth factors that aid in repairing tissues in your body. These proteins are vital in healing injuries as well as chronic problems with your tendons, ligaments, muscles, and cartilage.

How are platelets utilized in orthopaedics?

Researchers have found a way to harness the power of platelets in the form of an injection. This injection is known as platelet-rich plasma, or PRP.

The PRP injection is used when areas of tissue in your body need help repairing themselves. The injection comes in two parts. 

In the initial step of the PRP process, our team takes a blood sample from your arm. This blood is then taken to a machine called a centrifuge. This machine spins your blood down, separating the platelets and plasma from the other components of your blood.

During this process, the concentration of platelets is increased. This means that their growth proteins are also increased, due to the amplified number of platelets.

In the second part of the process, the concentration is drawn up in a syringe and injected into the area of your injury or medical condition. PRP has shown promise in helping a number of problems, including orthopaedic injuries and chronic orthopaedic conditions.

Conditions that PRP can help

At Orthopaedic Specialists, Dr. Downs offers PRP injections for a variety of conditions and injuries. When conservative measures haven’t helped your pain or discomfort, PRP is a great option to allow your tissues to heal. 

Because of their powerful growth factors, platelets are able to help a variety of different disorders, both orthopaedic and medical. Some of the conditions Dr. Downs uses PRP for include:

PRP has many benefits compared to other, more invasive procedures. It’s minimally invasive, only requiring a needle stick to retrieve your blood and another one to administer the PRP into the area causing you pain.

It may also help you put off surgery for your injury or condition. Although PRP takes several weeks to see results, the platelets continue to work, possibly repairing damage that would otherwise need surgical intervention.

Dr. Downs uses PRP to treat sports injuries as well. Along with physical therapy, PRP has the ability to help your body heal faster after a sports injury, allowing you to return to your normal activities within a few weeks to months.

If you’re interested in learning more about PRP therapy, don’t hesitate to contact Orthopaedic Specialists by calling one of our convenient offices in the Nashville, Tennessee area or requesting an appointment online.

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