Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a treatment used to promote healing in injured joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. It is frequently used in athletes and active individuals who wish to return to their sport or activity quickly. It may also be used in individuals who wish to avoid surgery or augment their healing after surgery.
Some of the conditions that are indicated for PRP injection include:
- Tendon tears
- Ligament tears
- Cartilage damage
Some specific diagnoses which are frequently treated with PRP include:
- Chronic tendon injuries or tendinitis
- Gluteal tendinitis
- Trochanteric bursitis
- Achilles tendonitis
- Tennis elbow
- Patellar tendinitis
- Ligament and muscle injuries
- Hamstring muscles
- Knee sprains
- Hip injuries
- Osteoarthritis of the hip, knee, and shoulder
PRP can also be used to help healing after certain types of surgeries. For example, after surgery to repair a torn tendon, PRP can promote healing of the tendon.
PRP may not be recommended for some patients. Some of the contraindications of PRP include:
- Suffering from other malignancies or blood borne conditions
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a concentrated form of blood platelets. To obtain this preparation, your blood is drawn, similarly to any other routine blood draw. This can be completed in the clinic office setting. After the blood has been drawn, it is spun at great speed in a specialized centrifuge. This facilitates the separation of the platelets and liquid portion of blood (plasma) from the blood cells (RBC and WBC), to produce a concentrated preparation of "platelet-rich plasma", which has about 5 to 10 times the concentration of growth factors and healing properties. Once the blood has been spun, and the PRP separated, it is ready for use.
The injection of PRP is performed as an outpatient procedure, in the clinic office setting. The site of injection is cleansed and the PRP is injected into the area damaged or diseased tissue. The injection is routinely given under the guidance of ultrasound to ensure that the needle is inserted accurately. You may be recommended a series of 3 injections to provide the greatest amount of healing. Typically, PRP is given in a series of 3 injections over a course of 3-6 weeks.
At the damage site, PRP works by releasing growth factors that promote healing through the multiplication of reparative cells.
The injection of PRP is an outpatient procedure, so you will be able to leave home immediately after. Following the treatment, you may experience irritation and mild pain for 24-48 hours. Typically, a day of rest (avoidance of exercise) and cold application to the injection site is all that is needed to reduce mild pain.
Risks and Complications
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection is usually a safe and non-invasive treatment procedure. Since blood is drawn from your own body, the risk of reaction and side-effects is limited. However, as with most treatment procedures, PRP is rarely associated with certain complications. The risks and complications that could be associated with PRP injections include:
- Increased pain at the injection site
- Tissue damage
- Injury to neighboring nerves
Undergoing the procedure under the hands of a skilled medical provider can greatly minimize these risks.