What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)?
Platelets are small biological packages that normally circulate in the blood. They contain blood clotting factors as well as many growth factors. The growth factors promote healing by encouraging the growth of news blood vessels to help heal tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy entails drawing a volume of your own blood and then separating the plasma, which contains concentrated platelets. This volume of plasma is then reinjected to the site of injury where the platelets can begin healing damaged tissues. PRP is particularly useful where it can be introduced to avascular musculoskeletal tissue such as tendons and ligaments that don’t receive such potent doses of platelets on their own. While Stem Cell Therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma both use naturally occurring cells and growth factors from the human body to regenerate tissue, they’re used differently based on your physiological condition and type of injury.
Who is a good Candidate for PRP?
Patients with osteoarthritis, chronic tendonitis (tennis elbow, Achilles tendonitis, rotator cuff tendonitis etc), plantar fasciitis, or other chronic injuries or musculoskeletal or arthritic conditions including knees, ankles, and wrists that have not gotten better with traditional therapy. Increasingly, medical research is demonstrating that steroid injections may have some negative long term effects on tendon strength and joint surface. Recent studies have shown PRP injections are a superior treatment in some circumstances.
Why use PRP?
The body’s ability to repair and replace damaged cartilage, tendon, or other specialized tissue in adults is limited. Injured joints or tendons can be a source of chronic pain and can limit activities. PRP therapy can harness the body’s own healing ability to allow more complete healing than other alternatives. Furthermore, PRP is a natural treatment that uses nothing more than your body’s own blood.
How are PRP injections performed?
First, you will be seen by a CROM physician to determine if you are an appropriate candidate for PRP. This may include an ultrasound examination to determine the condition of your joints and/or tendons.
If PRP is deemed an appropriate treatment for you, it will be performed on a second appointment, which is a brief, simple, in-office procedure.
Step 1: A small amount of healthy blood is drawn from your arm.
Step 2: The platelet-rich plasma is separated from your blood using a centrifuge.
Step 3: The platelet-rich plasma is re-injected to the injured area, usually under ultrasound guidance.
The treated area will be numb for about an hour, and you may experience soreness or moderate pain for a few days after the injection. Your doctor will discuss rehabilitation with you and whether any bracing, physical therapy or limitations on activities will be required. In most cases normal activities, including driving, can be resumed immediately after the injection.