Platelet Rich Plasma Injections (PRP)
What is PRP?
Platelet-rich plasma injection is an emerging medical treatment that can be used to help with healing both chronic and acute injuries. A PRP injection is made from the patient’s own blood. It contains a high concentration of platelets and growth factors which, when injected into the injured site, can help to promote and speed healing.
How do you make PRP?
A small amount blood is collected from the patient’s arm. It is processed in a special centrifuge which separates and concentrates the platelets and other beneficial growth factors. Platelets are cells that contain over 300 active growth factors to help improve healing by stimulating ‘normal’ tissue repair instead of ‘scar’ tissue. This platelet rich plasma (PRP) is then injected back into the patient’s injured tissue to help stimulate healing.
Are there side effects or risks of PRP injections?
PRP is not a drug, and doctors generally see it as safe. Side effects of PRP injections are rare but as with any injection there is always the small risk of infection or injury to nerves or blood vessels. Scar tissue formation and calcification at the injection site are also possible.
What does the scientific research say about PRP injections?
At PhysioPlus Health Group, we are committed to providing the most up to date, evidence-based treatments. The effectiveness of PRP can be influenced by a number of factors such as the injury or area of the body being treated, the overall health of the patient and whether the injury is acute (such as from a fall) or chronic (an injury developing over time).
There are many published studies that examine the use of PRP and there is some evidence to suggest that PRP may provide benefit for certain types of injuries / conditions such as osteoarthritis, ligament, tendon and meniscal injuries of the knee. There is still, however, a great deal of conflicting evidence in the literature with the rapid expansion of knowledge and interest in PRP injections.
For an up to date reference of published studies please visit: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed, which is the US National Library of Congress website entirely devoted to published research.
What conditions are typically treated with PRP?
According to the current evidence, PRP is most effective in the treatment of chronic tendon injuries, especially tennis elbow. The use of PRP for other chronic tendon injuries such as chronic Achilles tendonitis or inflammation of the patellar tendon at the knee (Jumper’s Knee) is promising, but requires ongoing study.
There has been a great deal of publicity around PRP therapy for treatment of acute sports injuries, such as ligament and muscle injuries. PRP has been used to treat athletes with common sports injuries like pulled hamstring muscles and knee ligament sprains. Although there is some evidence to suggest it may be beneficial, we are still unsure if PRP actually improves the recovery and healing process in these types of injuries.
There is some evidence showing that PRP can help to reduce pain and improve function in patients with early osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. PRP is often used in combination with other treatment modalities such as exercise, physiotherapy, weight loss and unloader bracing to help manage arthritis pain, improve function and perhaps delay the need for surgery.
More recently, PRP has been used during certain types of surgery to help promote post-surgical tissue healing. It has been used in shoulder surgery and knee surgery to help promote healing after rotator cuff and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery. Future studies will help show whether PRP provides benefit in these types of surgical procedures.