During the past several years, much has been written about a preparation called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and its potential effectiveness in the treatment of injuries. Many famous athletes — Tiger Woods, tennis star Rafael Nadal, and several others — have received PRP for various problems, such as 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.
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. This can be done in one of two ways:
- 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.
- PRP may also be used to improve healing after surgery for some injuries. For example, an athlete with a completely torn heel cord may require surgery to repair the tendon. Healing of the torn tendon can possibly be improved by treating the injured area with PRP during surgery. This is done by preparing the PRP in a special way that allows it to actually be stitched into torn tissues.
The best treatment option for your specific injury will be determined after a thorough office examination. If you are tired of hurting, call today for an appointment to see if you are a candidate for this non-surgical treatment.
WHAT ARE PLATELETS-WHAT IS PRP ?
Platelets are an important part of the blood and are involved in wound healing and clot formation. They contain natural growth factors such as platelet derived growth factor (PDGF), insulin like growth factor (IGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), platelet derived angiogenic factor (PDAF), and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-ß). They also contain other substances that are important for wound healing, such as fibronectin.
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is sometimes referred to as autologous platelet gel, plasma rich in growth factors (PRGF), or platelet concentrate (PC). PRP is created by collecting a patient’s blood and centrifuging it at varying speeds for around 12 minutes in order to separate it into three fractions: platelet poor plasma (PPP), (platelet rich plasma (PRP), and red blood cells.
A platelet activator (agonist) is then added to the PRP, typically in the form of bovine (cow) thrombin and 10% calcium chloride. This activates the clotting cascade and produces a platelet gel with a platelet concentration around 3-10 times that of ordinary plasma (Wang & Avila, 2007).