PLATELET RICH PLASMA (PRP) INJECTIONS
Platelet Rich Plasma Injections involve withdrawing 20-60 cc of a patient’s OWN blood. Next, the blood is processed in a special centrifuge, which separates the blood into various components. One of the components, PRP, contains a high concentration of blood platelets, and as a result, a high concentration of growth factors. The PRP is then injected directly into the damaged tissue.
What Are Platelets?
Platelets are one type of cell found in blood. The other major types being red blood cells and white blood cells. Platelets are specialized cells that have many functions, including helping blood clot when you are bleeding, providing a ‘scaffold’ for tissue healing when injured, and producing a myriad of ‘growth factors’ that help the body heal itself once injured.
Growth factors are compounds that are made by platelets, examples of which include Platelet Derived Growth Factor (PDGF), TGF-B (Transforming Growth Factor-Beta) and VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor). These compounds are instrumental in attracting other cells that aid in healing, stimulating new blood vessel formation helpful in the healing process and promoting reproduction of cells necessary for healing.
Processing the blood into PRP results in an average 4 to 5 times the concentration of these important growth factors. Thus, when injected into the injured tissue, an influx of healing compounds floods the injury, stimulating faster healing.
When Are Platelet Rich Plasma Injections Used?
PRP injections are used to solve a variety of health problems. They can applied to basically any situation in which an injury is slow to heal, or, when you may want to speed up healing beyond the average timeframe that most people experience.
Tendon injuries, ligament injuries and cartilage injuries are all potential targets for PRP injections. Conditions like plantar fasciitis, muscle tears, ligament tears, rotator cuff tendinopathy and cartilage tears may all respond to Platelet Rich Plasma Injections.
Speeding up ‘normal’ healing is also a very powerful part of PRP injections. For instance, any athlete with an important upcoming competition can benefit from PRP injections to speed up healing. An individual with a planned active vacation where an injury may negatively affect the trip can also benefit, with the hope of healing to the point where the vacation can be actively pursued and enjoyed.
How Long Have Are Platelet Rich Plasma Injections Been Used?
The earliest work with PRP began about 20 years ago, but really has come to the forefront of sports medicine only recently. In the past, it has been used to speed up surgical healing, and now it’s application has expanded to non-surgical situations. In fact, PRP is often used prior to surgical intervention, and can definitely reduce the chances that you will need surgery for a stubborn injury.
Are PRP Injections Guided By Ultrasound?
Some times, ultrasound guidance is needed to ensure accurate needle placement.
How Many PRP Injections Are Required?
Depending on the injury and condition it can range from 1-2 but more may be required for certain conditions.