Noted for its use for the treatment for sprained knees and chronic tendon injuries in athletes, platelet rich plasma (PRP) may also benefit others dealing with similar soft tissue conditions. Usually delivered via injection, platelet rich plasma is made from part of the patient’s own blood to facilitate tissue healing. PRP injections have the potential to allow patients to respond better to physical therapy and similar rehabilitation efforts normally recommended to restore joint function and promote tissue healing.
What is Platelet Rich Plasma?
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a highly-concentrated form of a liquid part of blood (plasma). Platelets help with clotting and the healing of the body’s soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments). PRP is produced when blood is spun at high speeds (centrifuged), resulting in plasma with a concentration of platelets about 5-10 times greater than what’s considered normal (blood is only 1% platelets and plasma).
How Does PRP Work?
What Happens After a PRP Injection?
Pain may temporarily increase after a PRP injection. This discomfort usually subsides over a few weeks as the platelets react with tissues. There may be some minor irritation around the injection site, but it’s usually temporary. The number of injections needed will vary, but typically 2-6 injections are administered over time.
What Conditions Can Be Treated with PRP?
PRP is commonly used to treat tennis elbow and similar chronic tendon injuries. For sports-related injuries, PRP is sometimes used to facilitate healing from acute ligament and muscle injuries such as a pulled hamstrings or knee sprains.
The treatment is also being used to treat a wide range of tissue injuries and conditions that typically affect soft tissues, including:
- Lower back (lumbar) spine disc pain
- Patellar and Achilles tendonitis
- Joint osteoarthritis
- Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction and pain
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome and similar nerve entrapment conditions
- Plantar fasciitis
How is PRP Used During Surgery?
PRP is sometimes used to help with healing after surgery. When used during surgery, PRP is stitched into the tissues that are being repaired with a special technique. Because the PRP is woven into the tissues, it stimulates tissue healing, which may result in faster recovery.
Can PRP Treat Fractures and Arthritis Damage?
There’s research suggesting PRP may benefit patients with joint and tissue damage due to arthritis affecting knees, hips, shoulders, and ankles. More research is needed to determine if PRP may help with fractures (broken bones), although there is conclusive evidence showing significant benefits for this purpose.
Platelet rich-plasma injections do appear to be effective for chronic tendon injuries, and the treatment is also being used for other orthopedic conditions. However, use of PRP will depend on several factors, including whether or not there are other sources of a patient’s pain. PRP isn’t typically recommended until other treatment efforts have failed, and it’s generally considered safe since the patient’s own blood is used.