Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injection

You may have heard about major sports stars receiving platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections for their injuries. While celebrities receive the publicity, people from all walks of life with various injuries are healing with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections. These injections are developed from the patient’s own blood.

If you experience orthopedic issues or have surgery scheduled, ask your doctor whether a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection would benefit your condition.

Blood contains red and white cells, along with platelets. The latter circulate throughout the body, and are essential for blood clotting. These platelets, rich in growth factors, can help stimulate healing. A platelet-rich plasma injection is especially helpful in the early stages of healing for an injury or wound.

While the use of platelet-rich plasma in sports medicine is relatively recent, it has been used in dermatology, dentistry and plastic surgery for decades.

Treatment Areas

Platelet-rich plasma is primarily used for treating soft tissue injuries. These include chronic injuries such as tennis elbow. Other, often preliminary therapeutic uses of platelet-rich plasma include:

  • Discs
  • Fractures
  • Knee arthritis
  • Muscle, ligament and tendon injuries
  • Surgery – to aid in tissue healing
  • Wound healing

In some cases, the use of platelet-rich plasma injections may avoid the need for surgery. The injection’s primary purposes are speeding up the healing process and decreasing the likelihood of an injury progressing to a more serious state.

PRP Injection Procedure

The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes. The first step involves drawing a blood sample of approximately 30 milliliters from the patient. Platelets are separated from other blood components. Using centrifugation, the platelet’s concentration increases.

This enriched platelet concentration is then mixed in with the rest of the blood sample. The injection is prepared from the platelet-rich plasma and injected directly into the treatment area.

The doctor may use ultrasound for guidance during the injection. After the injection, the patient should rest for a while before continuing with daily activities. The doctor will advise the patient on a rehabilitation and exercise program for their particular injury.

What to Expect Afterward

It is normal to feel an increase in pain after the therapy. The doctor advises all patients of this beforehand. That is one reason it is crucial to follow the individual rehabilitation program. It is designed to increase strength and mobility. Within two weeks, patients should notice improvement, which increases as time goes on.

Side Effects and Contraindications

Since the patient’s own blood is used in platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, the procedure is very safe. There is no chance of an allergic reaction.

Patients should not take any anti-inflammatory medications, including over-the-counter non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, before the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection or afterward.

Platelet-rich plasma has anti-inflammatory properties, and doctors must monitor its effectiveness without the mask of NSAIDs or other drugs.

Professional athletes should not play while undergoing platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection therapy. Because of PRP’s innate growth factors, it is considered a performance enhancing drug and is thus illegal under the rules of most sports authorities.

Contact a Doctor

If you want to know more about platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections and whether you are a suitable candidate, contact a skilled doctor today to discuss your options.