Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are used to treat damaged or injured body tissues, ligaments, tendons, and joints. Also called autologous blood therapy, this treatment uses the patient’s own blood components to stimulate healing.
When a person is injured, white blood cells and blood platelets work together to promote healing. Platelets contain growth factors, which are released in great number when a body region is harmed. These growth factors stimulate the body’s own natural healing response.
PRP injections allow the doctor to use concentrated platelets from your own blood to heal an injury or damaged body region. PRP therapy makes it possible to treat injured patients in a less invasive means, and to delay surgery when possible.
PRP injections is used to treat:
Knee conditions – This includes bursitis, patellar tendinosis, tears or sprains of the knee ligaments, and tendonitis.
Hip conditions – Includes sacroiliac joint pain, pyriformis syndrome, tendonitis, and hamstring tears.
Arm and shoulder pain – This includes partial tears of the rotator cuff, tendonitis, tennis elbow, golf elbow, and bicipital tendonitis.
Feet and lower legs – This include ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon tears, and tendonitis.
Platelet injections are useful for patients who:
Prefer a less invasive form of treatment
People who have acute injuries related to sporting accidents
Anyone who has a healthy immune system
What happens before the PRP injection procedure?
Before the doctor does a PRP injection, he/she will discuss the options of treatment with you and go over the risk and benefits of PRP therapy. Once you decide to have this procedure, you must sign a consent form. A nurse will place an IV catheter into your arm to administer a sedative if necessary and fluids. A small amount of blood is drawn and processed for the injection.
The nurse will clean the skin with an antiseptic solution, and numb the skin with an anesthetic agent. The processed platelets are then injected into the affected body region. Depending on the injury, more than one needle may be used for the procedure. After the injection, a Band-aid is applied.
After the injection, the site will be sore and tender. An aching sensation is part of the healing response and is expected. This effect last for a few days, and then gradually decreases with time. During the recovery period, you should avoid aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which interfere with the healing response. In addition, you must avoid heavy exercise and strenuous lifting for several days.
The number of PRP injections a patient needs will depend on the severity and duration of the injury. The doctor may decide to do a series of injections, or one might provide the necessary treatment effects. Chronic injuries usually require three PRP injections.
Platelet-rich plasma injections are considered to be a safe, effective procedure. Since no foreign substance is being injected into the body, there is no chance of an allergic reaction. Risks include increased pain, nerve damage, infection, and bleeding.
Based on a recent clinical study, the success rate at six months follow-up was 66%. In addition, many clinical studies have shown that this treatment is effective for chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia, whiplash, and knee arthritis.