Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
Platelet Rich Plasma Injections (PRP)
Blood is comprised of several parts, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Each of these parts serves an important role. Red blood cells primarily carry oxygen. White blood cells are involved with the body’s immune system, by fighting infections. Platelets have their own unique role.
For decades, scientists have known that platelets have many purposes in the body. The most commonly understood function is their role in clotting blood after injuries, but platelets also carry other chemicals known as growth factors. These growth factors have been studied for more than 20 years, because they signal the body to start the healing process. Scientists have been able to prove certain other cells respond to the growth factors by growing, remodeling, or healing. Naturally, all scientists and physicians involved have wanted to see how the growth factors in platelets could be harnessed to help people heal. Studies performed to isolate and concentrate an individual’s platelets, for injection into injuries and other degenerative sites, have been very telling. There appears to be a role in the treatment of tendon and ligament injuries, as well as even typical arthritis of joints, using concentrated platelet rich plasma injections.
For most patients, these procedures are relatively simple and well tolerated. Blood is drawn from a vein like any other blood laboratory test. That blood is separated into concentrated platelets using a special machine called a centrifuge. The centrifuge increases the concentration of platelets 3-10 times what they would be in blood alone. Other components of blood are also removed, although sometimes the white blood cells are left within the concentrate to play other roles in healing.
The process of concentration takes 10-25 minutes. The concentrated platelets are then injected into the structures that a physician and patient would like to see healed. The injection can take 1-5 minutes depending on the specific structure injected.
Is it Painful?
Pain is generally minimal. Local anesthetic techniques can be used on the skin. However, anesthetics are known to deactivate or decrease platelet activities, so clinicians purposely avoid putting them in the same place as the platelets. The final site of injection may have no or minimal pain.
One Injection or Multiple Injections?
This will be up to you and your physician. Some patients respond very well to just one treatment, however 2-3 treatments may be necessary in some patients. Based on your responses, you and your physician will decide the appropriate medical course of action. Each injection may be spaced several weeks apart.