New therapy for chronic aches and pains? Ever had a tennis elbow or a chronic heel pain? Got fed up with standard treatment? Here is something new you would want to know and try. Chronic problems like tennis elbow or heel pain (plantar fascitis) normal are treated with local gels, pain killing medicines and physiotherapy. Though many get better some patients continue to have pain which does not settle down in spite of all the standard treatment modalities. They are then advised to take a hydrocortisone injection. Some do not even get better with repeated injection and some run away from the thought of a steroid injection! Doctors have been trying to use our own cells called platelets for a long time to treat these conditions. There is enough literature to suggest that if we take around 50 ml of our own blood and spin it (centrifuge it); we get what is known as platelet rich plasma. Platelets are by the way a part of our blood ad they help us in getting the blood clotted when we get a cut. It is a well known fact that these platelets have some growth factors which help in chronic wound healing. We do use a local ointment with platelet derived growth factor to heal chronic ulcers in diabetics for example. Injecting platelet rich plasma was based on this. Encouraged by these results I have started using a high concentration of pure platelets for patients who do not respond to any treatment. The procedure is like this. A blood bank would bleed the patient and take around 350 ml of his own blood. The platelets then are separated by a special procedure which takes 4 hours. These pure and concentrate platelets are then injected by me in the painful area on OPD basis. The patient gets relief in 10 to 15 days. If required I can repeat the procedure all over again.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the good parts of the procedure? Well we get injected by platelets which are from our own blood so there is no side effect or reaction.
What is the cost involved? Normally a blood bank would charge you Rs. 600-800 Rs. for the procedure. The cost of injecting these platelets would be around Rs. 800.
How much platelets can you get from 350 ml blood? And what is the volume you inject? We get around 50 ml of pure platelets. We inject only 3 to 5 ml at a time. Then can we store them for a second injection? These platelets are very fragile and can be stored for 5 days only. We get to see the effects only after 10 days so the other 45 ml gets wasted. You draw 350 ml blood which is like a blood donation
what happens to patients who are anemic?
You are right we would refuse any patient with low hemoglobin to start with. However once the platelets are separated the rest of the blood can be transfused back making sure that the patient does loose his blood unnecessarily.
The injection must be very painful? Is it injected inside the bone? No. The injection is into the inflamed soft tissues and is as painful as a tetanus shot you so often take.
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