What is PRP?
Platelet rich plasma therapy (commonly referred to as PRP) is used to speed up the body’s natural healing process after an injury or in the case of arthritis. The treatment involves injection of platelets into the damaged joints, ligaments, and tendons to promote tissue repair. Platelets are a component of the blood that initiate the clotting process to control bleeding. Therapeutically applied, they can help in the treatment of pain and inflammation.
What conditions can be improved with PRP treatment?
PRP therapy provides a long lasting solution to injury. The treatment can be used to help the patient avoid surgery by strengthening the body’s natural healing ability at the site of injury. In other words, it treats the cause of the pain, not just the symptoms! Platelet rich plasma therapy may be used to treat:
• Chronic tendon injuries (tennis elbow, patellar tendonitis)
• Acute ligament and muscle injuries and tears
• Mild diffuse cartilage injuries
How does it work?
A platelet rich plasma injection is made from the patient’s own blood sample and can be done in a single office visit. The entire process takes about 25-30 minutes, which includes drawing the blood and placing it in a centrifuge. Once in the centrifuge, the blood will be separated into red blood cells and concentrated platelets. The platelet rich plasma (PRP) will then be injected into the affected muscle, joint, or disc. Though each patient’s case is different, most PRP treatments require between one and three injections over a period of time. You should experience improvement in pain within four to six weeks after the injection.
Who is a candidate for this treatment?
Research studies are being conducted to evaluate this treatment for different conditions. Several factors can affect the effectiveness of platelet rich plasma therapy, including the specific part of the body being treated, the overall health of the patient, and the nature of the injury (acute or chronic). PRP does not work for everyone, and it works for some people better than others. Clinical studies have shown mixed results for its use in treating osteoarthritis. It may work best when combined with other treatments, like physical therapy.
Chronic Tendon Injuries
Medical research shows that PRP is most effective for chronic tendon injuries, especially tennis elbow. Other studies suggest that it may be a promising option for other tendon injuries such as Achilles tendonitis and jumper’s knee.
Acute Muscle Tears
PRP has also been used to facilitate healing in the case of acute sports injuries when more traditional treatments have failed. It has helped professional athletes to recover quickly from sports injuries that would normally take more time to heal, such as acute muscle tears or sprains.