Platelet-rich plasma therapy also referred to as PRP therapy, attempts to take advantage of the blood’s natural healing properties to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles, or even bone. The concentrated platelets found in PRP contain huge reservoirs of bioactive proteins, including growth factors and signaling proteins that are vital to initiate and accelerate tissue repair and regeneration. In response to an injury or tissue damage, your body naturally recruits platelets and white blood cells from the blood to initiate a healing response.
A growing number of people are turning to PRP injections to treat an expanding list of orthopedic conditions, including osteoarthritis. It is most commonly used for knee osteoarthritis but may be used on other joints as well.
Under normal conditions, platelets store numerous growth factors which are released in response to signals from the injured tissue. Modern technology allows us to concentrate platelets from your blood, and induce this growth factor release as the solution is injected into injured tissue, simulating this same healing response in a more powerful form.
When treating osteoarthritis with platelet-rich plasma, PRP is injected directly into the affected joint. The goal is to:
- Reduce pain
- Improve joint function
- Possibly slow, halt, or even repair damage to cartilage
How it Works:
To prepare PRP, a small amount of blood is taken from the patient’s arm. The blood is then placed in a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins and separates the platelets from the rest of the blood components. The entire process takes less than 15 minutes and increases the concentration of platelets and growth factors up to 600%. Using the patient’s own blood, specially prepared platelets are taken and re-injected into the affected area.
When PRP is injected into the damaged area it stimulates the tendon, ligament or muscle with a high concentration of growth factors that triggers the healing cascade. As a result, new tissue begins to develop. As this tissue matures it begins to shrink, causing the tightening and strengthening of the tendons, ligaments, and muscle of the damaged area.
Depending on the severity and duration of your injury, one to three PRP injections are suggested. Following the initial treatment with PRP, a follow-up visit occurs two to three weeks later. At this visit, an evaluation of your response to the initial therapy is performed and a decision is made regarding the need for additional PRP treatments.
What is plasma?
Plasma refers to the liquid component of blood; it is the medium for red and white blood cells and other material traveling in the bloodstream. Plasma is mostly water but also includes proteins, nutrients, glucose, and antibodies, among other components.
What are platelets?
Like red and white blood cells, platelets are a normal component of blood. Platelets alone do not have any restorative or healing properties; rather, they secrete substances called growth factors and other proteins that regulate cell division, stimulate tissue regeneration, and promote healing. Platelets also help the blood to clot; a person with defective platelets or too few platelets will bleed excessively from a cut.
Are PRP Injections Safe?
YES. PRP is FDA approved! Research and clinical data show that PRP injections are extremely safe, with minimal risk for any adverse reaction or complication. Because PRP is produced from your own blood, there is no concern for rejection or disease transmission. Not to mention, recent research suggests that PRP may have an anti-bacterial property which protects against possible infection.