What exactly is platelet-rich plasma? Although blood is mainly a liquid (called plasma), it also contains small solid components (red cells, white cells, and platelets). The platelets are best known for their importance in clotting blood. However, platelets also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors that are very important in the healing of injuries. PRP is plasma with many more platelets than what is typically found in blood. The concentration of platelets and growth factors can be 5 to 10 times greater than usual
How does it work & for what conditions? To develop a PRP preparation, blood must first be drawn from a patient similar to having bloodwork drawn. With this blood sample, your clinicians are then able to separate the platelets from the blood cells using a centrifuge machine. PRP can be carefully injected into the injured area.
For example, in Achilles tendinitis, a condition commonly seen in runners and tennis players, the heel cord can become swollen, inflamed, and painful. A mixture of PRP and local anesthetic can be injected directly into this inflamed tissue. Afterwards, the pain at the area of injection may increase for the first week or two and it may be several weeks before the patient feels a beneficial effect.
PRP may also be used to improve healing after surgery for some injuries. For example, an athlete with a completely torn heel cord may require surgery to repair the tendon. Healing of the torn tendon can possibly be improved by treating the injured area with PRP during surgery. This is done by preparing the PRP in a special way that allows it to be stitched into torn tissues
Is it effective? Laboratory studies have shown that the increased concentration of growth factors in PRP can potentially speed up the healing process. Research studies are currently being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of PRP treatment. Recent research has shown that certain tendon problems can have improved outcomes with PRP injections. Additionally, more and more literature are showing the significant effectiveness of PRP in the treatment of mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis.
Factors that can influence the effectiveness of PRP treatment include:
• The area of the body being treated
• The overall health of the patient
• Whether the injury is acute (such as from a fall) or chronic (an injury developing over time)