Platelet Rich Plasma

What Is Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP)?

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 which 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, thereby, the concentration of growth factors — can be 5 to 10

times greater (or richer) than usual.

To develop a PRP preparation, blood must first be drawn from a patient. The platelets are

separated from other blood cells and their concentration is increased during a process called

centrifugation. Then the increased concentration of platelets is combined with the remaining

blood.

How Does PRP Work?

Although it is not exactly clear how PRP works, laboratory studies have shown that the increased

concentration of growth factors in PRP can potentially speed up the healing process.  To speed

healing, the injury site is treated with the PRP preparation.

PRP can be carefully injected into the injured area. For example, in Achilles tendonitis, 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 actually increase for the first

week or two, and it may be several weeks before the patient feels a beneficial effect.

What Conditions are Treated with PRP? Is It Effective?

According to the research studies currently reported, PRP is most effective in the treatment of

chronic tendon injuries - such as chronic Achilles tendonitis is promising. Much of the publicity

PRP therapy has received has been about the treatment of acute sports injuries, such as

ligament and muscle injuries. PRP has been used to treat professional athletes with common

sports injuries.

In our practice we commonly use PRP in the treatment of:

  • Plantar fasciitis

  • Achilles tendonitis

  • Tendon injuries

  •  Arthritis

  •  Ankle ligament injuries

The risks associated with PRP are minimal: There may be increased pain at the injection site,

but the incidence of other problems — infection, tissue damage, nerve injuries — appears to be

no different from that associated with cortisone injections.