From professional athletes to people suffering from the effects of osteoarthritis, patients around the country are gradually warming up to the idea of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy for treating orthopedic injuries. As just one part of the broader practice of regenerative medicine, PRP therapy is proving efficacious for a range of conditions that would otherwise be treated with more invasive means.
The Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) is an organization that trains physicians in the proper procedures related to both PRP and stem cell therapy. Doctors learn how to extract autologous material from patients, process that material in a specialized centrifuge, and inject the resulting serum into the site of injury. They are also taught how to conduct prescreening.
Patients are prescreened to determine whether they are good candidates for PRP therapy or not. Part of that screening is a blood draw that seeks to determine a patient’s blood platelet count. Counts that are too high or low are a very good reason to delay PRP until the underlying issue can be resolved.
Here are six things that could derail PRP therapy by producing inappropriate blood platelet counts:
1. Excessive Alcohol Consumption
While medical science is still unclear about the direct effects of alcohol on blood platelet levels, numerous studies have shown that people who drink excessively tend to have lower counts than those who drink moderately or not at all. As such, heavy alcohol users may demonstrate low platelet counts. The obvious solution here is to reduce alcohol consumption.
2. OTC and Prescription Medications
Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications can do all sorts of strange things to the human body. That is one of the reasons doctors are beginning to look more at regenerative medicine to replace pharmaceutical solutions. All that being said, some kinds of medications can affect blood platelet counts in either direction.
OTC drugs known to cause problems include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. All are recommended as pain relievers. As for prescription medications, there are far too many to list. They are more difficult to address for the purposes of PRP therapy due to the fact that they are prescribed for some other condition the patient is suffering from.
Anemia is a well-recognized and easily treated condition related to a lack of red blood cells. When the condition is caused by a vitamin or iron deficiency, supplements can take care of the problem. If it is caused by another underlying health condition, that condition must be treated first.
4. Certain Infections
Certain infections like HIV and hepatitis C can have an effect on blood platelet counts. Like anemia, these underlying conditions should be addressed before a patient undergoes PRP therapy. Medications can be used to bring blood platelet counts back up.
Unfortunately, many pregnant women discover they are not good candidates for PRP therapy while carrying their babies. The good news is that blood platelet counts altered by pregnancy are likely to return to normal in the months following delivery. Many of these same women can undergo treatment later on.
6. Certain Cancers
Certain forms of cancer can do a number on blood platelets. If that’s not enough, cancer treatment can also affect blood counts. As such, certain cancer patients may not be good candidates for PRP therapy.
Doctors trained by the ARMI are reminded of the necessity to prescreen patients before recommending PRP therapy. It doesn’t do any good to offer the therapy if a patient’s blood platelet count is too high or low, as the imbalance would limit the efficacy of the treatment.