Platelet rich plasma or PRP is one of the most promising biologic therapies currently in use. PRP has the ability to trigger the body’s natural healing processes. Sports medicine has turned to PRP because it has been found to significantly enhance the healing process while shortening the time an athlete is sidelined.

What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)?

PRP is a biologic treatment that is derived from your own blood. It contains a higher concentration of growth factors that can help stimulate healing and also provide extended anti-inflammatory relief. The medical literature has shown that these growth factors can supplement the existing cartilage in joints. PRP can be used to promote healing for soft tissue injuries involving tendons, ligaments and muscles. It can also be used for tissue injuries in joints including labrum and meniscus tears. Clinical research has shown strong evidence that PRP can provide relief for mild to moderate degenerative joint conditions such as arthritis and chondromalacia.

Woman sitting outside adjusting her shoe after a run

What are the potential benefits of platelet rich plasma injections?

  • May make aggressive treatments unnecessary, such as a dependence upon medications or the need for surgery.
  • May considerably accelerate healing when measured against results of traditional therapies.
  • Pain and swelling reduced naturally.
  • Return of function more complete with shorter recovery time.
  • Minimal side effects, as PRP stimulates and directs the body’s own natural healing functions.
  • Non-invasive except for blood draw and injection.
  • Therapy can be safely repeated, but one treatment may be all that is needed.
  • Injections can be placed directly into the injury, even tendons and ligaments, without weakening them.
  • Platelet rich plasma injections can heal and strengthen tendons and ligaments, thickening them so they are less accident prone. Both tendons and ligaments are known to develop weaker areas where blood flow is diminished due to stressful activity and shock. PRP therapy can ward off repeated injury in these areas.

What kinds of injuries can PRP therapy be applied to?

Because PRP injections can be performed in muscles, tendons and ligaments over the entire body, it has a wide range of uses. Some of the more common ones are:

Older man at a gym using a workout machine

What can I expect on the day of the procedure?

Expect to be in clinic for one to one and a half hours. Paperwork will need to be completed prior to your injection. A blood draw from your arm will be performed and this blood will be processed immediately afterwards. The PRP will be administered the same day via injection to the affected area using ultrasound guidance in the clinic. Depending on your injury, an orthosis may be administered followed by any prescriptions including physical therapy. A follow-up appointment will be made at this time as well.

What can I expect after my PRP joint treatment?

PRP can initiate a healing response and the first phase of healing involves inflammation. As a result, PRP may initially cause stiffness and mild swelling that can potentially last for up to one week. Anti-inflammatory medications are discouraged for up to two weeks after the procedure to allow for an adequate natural inflammatory response. Ice, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and prescribed pain medications can be used if necessary. Activity involving the injured body part as well as flying travel is discouraged during the first week for precautionary reasons. Physical therapy can begin one week after PRP joint treatment.

Will I need repeat PRP injections in the future?

This depends on your injury. Typically, PRP is administered as a single treatment for soft tissue injuries combined with physical therapy. If the healing effects plateau, then a supplemental biologic injection may be recommended. For chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis and chondromalacia of the joints, PRP treatment combined with rehabilitation may not necessitate further treatment. It is possible that repeat supplemental treatment may be needed again in the future due the joint’s chronic degenerative condition. The type of supplemental treatment would be determined during follow-up.

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