PRP – Platelet Rich Plasma
Many famous athletes including tennis player Rafael Nadal have used Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy. This is a non-surgical, non-operative treatment that may relieve pain by naturally promoting long lasting healing.
How does it work?
Platelets contain proteins called growth factors which are very important in the healing of injuries. PRP is plasma with many more platelets than are typically found in blood. The concentration of these platelets — and thereby growth factors — can be 5 to 10 times richer than usual.
Platelets are involved in the clotting and wound healing process. If there’s a greater supply of platelets, it will stimulate the inflammatory process, which will in turn encourage the natural healing process.
How is it administered?
Blood is drawn from a patient. Then platelets are extracted through a centrifuge process. The platelet solution is then injected to the injury site through guided ultrasound. Generally speaking patients will typically experience a reduction in pain a day or two after their first or subsequent injection.
Typically two or more injections are required, separated by a few weeks apart. This may vary depending on which part of your body is injured.
During your injection your previous imaging will be reviewed to ensure the injection is appropriate. Blood will be taken from one of your veins and the spinning process takes about 5 minutes. The whole procedure usually takes about an hour end to end.
How effective is it?
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, PRP is most effective in treatment of chronic tendon injuries such as tennis elbow.
It has also been used for patellar tendon injuries (runner’s knee) but it’s efficacy not well proven yet. There is no proven benefit after surgery.
If you are considering treatment with PRP, be sure to check your eligibility with your health insurance carrier. Few insurance plans, including worker compensation plans, provide reimbursement.