Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy is a nonsurgical procedure which utilizes platelets from an individual’s own blood to rebuild damaged tendons or cartilage. Not only does PRP successfully relieve pain, it’s also reported to speed the healing process. PRP therapy is done in the examining room and is over in less than an hour.
There’s been much in the news recently, about PRP Therapy and its potential effectiveness in the treatment of injuries, particularly sports injuries. A number of famous athletes, among them Tiger Woods, have reportedly been injected with PRP for various problems, including sprained knees and chronic tendon injuries. Typically, these conditions were treated with medication, physical therapy, or sometimes surgery.
Blood is primarily a liquid called plasma. It also contains some solid components– red cells, white cells and platelets. Platelets are essential to clotting. They also contain proteins called growth factors which are important to the healing of injuries. PRP is plasma, but with many more platelets than are typically found in blood. The concentration of platelets, and therefore the concentration of growth factors, can be five to ten times richer.
How is PRP Therapy Performed?
A PRP preparation is created by first drawing blood from the patient. The platelets are then separated from the other cells. Next their concentration is increased through a process called centrifugation. Finally, the increased concentration of platelets is combined with the remaining blood.
The injury site can be treated by injecting PRP into the injured area. PRP may also be used to improve healing after surgery. This requires preparing the PRP in such a way as to allow it to be stitched into the damaged tissue.
Clinical studies show that PRP injections have improved function and decreased pain in elbow, wrist, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle tendonosis. Research with osteoarthritis is also encouraging. Side effects of PRP injections are rare as the patient is utilizing their own blood, to which there should be no reaction.