Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy

Using your own platelets to heal your body

Understanding PRP

During the past several years, much has been written about platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and its potential effectiveness in the treatment of injuries. Many famous athletes, including tennis star Rafael Nadal and 2-time NFL Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward, used their own platelets to heal their body for injuries like sprained knees and chronic tendon injuries.


These types of conditions have typically been treated with medications, physical therapy, or even surgery. Some athletes have credited PRP with their being able to return more quickly to competition. Even though PRP has received extensive publicity, there are still lingering questions. Learn more about PRP below, read frequently asked questions, or watch this PRP overview video.


Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a solution made from your own blood that contains a concentrated amount of your platelets. Platelets are tiny blood cells that help your body form clots to stop bleeding and they contain more than 1,500 proteins that contribute to our bodies healing. These platelets and increased levels of growth factors are created from a small amount of your own blood or bone marrow, and have the potential to improve signaling and recruitment of other cells. It is this highly concentrated portion of the blood or bone marrow that is often referred to as platelet-rich plasma (PRP).

Healing after an injury involves a well-orchestrated and complex series of events where proteins in the blood act as messengers to regulate the entire process. Many proteins involved in the healing process are derived from small cell fragments in the blood called platelets.

Platelets are small, colorless, cell fragments present in the blood. They are formed in the bone marrow and are freely passing through the bloodstream in a resting state. However, when an injury occurs, the platelets become activated and start to gather at the injury site to release beneficial proteins called growth factors. This is the beginning of the healing process.

For many years, blood components derived from the patient and then delivered to the site of injury have created growing interest for use in orthopedic procedures. New research and technology has expanded the application of this therapy for use in orthopedic procedures.


Benefits of PRP

Parts of your body can have a hard time healing. For example, ligaments and tendons (which connect bones and muscles) don't get much blood from the body. Sprains and strains of these tissues typically heal slowly. PRP injection therapy uses your own blood to speed up the healing in these areas and may reduce pain in your muscles, ligament, tendons, or bones. It has also been shown to help decrease inflammation and can slow down degeneration in certain common conditions such as arthritis.


The Science Behind Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)

Platelet Rich Plasma injections uses your body's own platelets to heal your body. It is a concentration of platelets and growth factors created from a small amount of your own blood or bone marrow. Increased levels of growth factors have the potential to improve signaling and recruitment of cells. This concentrated portion of the blood or bone marrow is often referred to as 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.

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How Does The PRP Process Work?

Creating the Mix
The PRP process begins with a small amount of your blood collected by your health care provider. It is spun around in a centrifuge. This process separates the blood into platelets, plasma, red blood cells, and white blood cells. The platelets are then concentrated and mixed with some of your plasma. This mixture is called "platelet rich plasma." The entire production process is usually done in less than 30 minutes. The doctor injects this individualized PRP mixture into the desired location for your treatment.

Injection
After the PRP injection, you will go home the same day. Your immune system (the system that keeps your body healthy) generally reacts quickly. White blood cells called "macrophages" help prepare the site for healing. Then, your stem cells and other cells begin to multiply. Over time, they can repair the injured tissues.


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What Conditions Are Treated with PRP? Is It Effective?

Research studies are currently being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of PRP treatments. At this time, the results of these studies are inconclusive because the effectiveness of PRP therapy can vary. 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)

Chronic Tendon Injuries
According to the research studies currently reported, PRP is most effective in the treatment of chronic tendon injuries, especially tennis elbow, a very common injury of the tendons on the outside of the elbow.

Acute Ligament and Muscle Injuries
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 like pulled hamstring muscles in the thigh and knee sprains. There is no definitive scientific evidence, however, that PRP therapy actually improves the healing process in these types of injuries.

Joint Pain and Injuries
PRP may help a patient delay or avoid joint replacement surgery. With any treatment option, the effectiveness of the treatment depends upon the condition of the joint.

Surgery
More recently, PRP has been used during certain types of surgery to help tissues heal. It was first thought to be beneficial in shoulder surgery to repair torn rotator cuff tendons. However, the results so far show little or no benefit when PRP is used in these types of surgical procedures.

Surgery to repair torn knee ligaments, especially the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is another area where PRP has been applied.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you a candidate for PRP treatment?

Speak with your physician and ask if PRP is right for you. Your physician will perform an examination to make a determination if the use of PRP will... Read More

Speak with your physician and ask if PRP is right for you. Your physician will perform an examination to make a determination if the use of PRP will benefit you.

What are the risks associated with PRP?

Platelet Rich Plasma therapy uses your body's own natural properties to treat your injury. As such, side effects from utilizing platelet treatments are... Read More

Platelet Rich Plasma therapy uses your body's own natural properties to treat your injury. As such, side effects from utilizing platelet treatments are very uncommon and the risks associated with it are minimal. There may be discomfort 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.

Keep in mind that everyone has a different experience with this type of treatment. Tell your physician of all medications, including over the counter, you are currently taking. If you are taking anti-inflammatory medications or blood thinners, your physician may temporarily discontinue the use of these until your treatment has taken place.

Will my insurance cover this procedure?

While PRP treatments have been around for many years, many insurance companies still consider this treatment experimental and deny coverage. Your... Read More

While PRP treatments have been around for many years, many insurance companies still consider this treatment experimental and deny coverage. Your physician's office will contact your insurance company to confirm if they will cover this procedure. If your insurance will not cover the treatment, your physician may discuss other options.

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