Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy takes a patient’s own blood, concentrates the platelets in that blood, and then reinjects them to accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints. Research studies and clinical practice have also shown PRP injections to be very effective at relieving pain and returning patients to their normal lives.
PRP is part of the emerging field of regenerative medicine and orthobiologics, where substances naturally found in your body are used to spur healing and regrowth within an injured site.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatments
Platelet-rich plasma treatment is an outpatient procedure. It begins when blood is drawn from a patient’s body and then placing it in a centrifuge. This process separates the whole blood into its components, including red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. The latter is the liquid that carries all parts of the blood through the circulatory system.
At this point, the platelets are in a concentrated form several times the levels typically found in blood. Although one of the platelet cells’ roles is to promote blood clotting at wounds, they also contain more than 30 growth factor chemicals. Most of these growth factors possess functions that relate to wound healing and injury recovery.
The goal of platelet-rich plasma treatments is to deliver high concentrations of these growth factors to an area of injury, with the hope of stimulating a healing response and reducing inflammation of the tissue. To maximize this treatment’s effectiveness, a doctor will typically will use ultrasound or a fluoroscope to precisely inject the platelet concentration at the injured site.
Because PRP is derived from a patient’s own blood, there is no chance of having an allergy or immune reaction. Side effects or complications with PRP are extremely rare.
Who Is a Candidate?
Platelet-rich plasma treatments are used for a variety of sports injuries and musculoskeletal conditions, including:
- Knee osteoarthritis
- Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
- Small shoulder rotator cuff tears
- Plantar fasciitis
- Sports injuries such as pulled muscles, joint sprains, tendonitis, or ligament tears
Patients should discuss PRP treatment with their doctor to have a realistic picture of what they can expect from regenerative medicine for orthopedic conditions.