What is Platelet Rich Plasma therapy?
Although Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy is becoming a highly touted method of boosting the body’s natural healing process, a large portion of the public still doesn’t know what it is or how it works. PRP uses one component of the patient’s own blood, known as platelets, to stimulate healing. When used by skilled doctors who specialize in rehabilitation medicine, PRP can be a highly effective means of speeding the healing process and shortening recovery from injury or surgery.
How PRP Works
The liquid portion of the blood, known as plasma, contains red blood cells and white blood cells in addition to platelets. Each component of the blood has special functions; platelets play a crucial role in blood clotting and also contain proteins (growth factors) that are necessary to healing injuries. By producing plasma extra rich in platelets, remixing it with the remaining blood and reintroducing it into the body, healing is accelerated.
Once blood is drawn from the patient, it is put through a centrifuge to separate and concentrate the platelets and growth factors. The resulting plasma has five to ten times as many platelets as ordinary blood. The enriched plasma is then mixed with the remaining blood and injected into the patient. PRP therapy has been used effectively on a great many patients, including several famous athletes, such as Tiger Woods.
Methods of Administration
There are two primary ways in which PRP is administered:
- PRP is carefully injected into the injured region, such as the Achilles tendon, an area commonly damaged during sports activity. In such cases, a mixture of PRP and a local anesthetic are injected directly into the inflamed tissue.
- The other way PRP is administered is as an aid to recovery after surgical repair. By injecting postsurgical patients with the concentrated plasma, healing can be accelerated and pain greatly lessened. Sometimes PRP is stitched into torn tissues during the actual surgery.
Whichever way PRP is administered, the procedure takes place under ultrasound guidance to prevent damaging healthy tissue.
Conditions PRP Is Used to Treat
PRP is used to treat a number of common injuries that occur during sporting events or in other types of accidents, including chronic tendon injuries, acute ligament and muscle injuries, fractures, and arthritis of the knee. It is also used, as mentioned, to promote postsurgical healing.
How Successful Is PRP Treatment Research studies currently underway are being performed to evaluate the effectiveness of PRP treatment. Although these studies are not complete and, therefore somewhat inconclusive, the results of clinical usage are encouraging. It seems clear at this time that the effectiveness of PRP treatment may vary according to which area of the body is treated, the patient’s general health, and whether the injury being treated is acute or chronic. Nonetheless, patients who have been helped swear by its efficacy.