Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) encourages healing for athletes – and you!
What is Platelet Rich Plasma?
Blood is mainly a liquid (called plasma), but it has other components including platelets. Platelets contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in the healing of injuries.
PRP is plasma with many more platelets than what is typically found in blood. The concentration of platelets — and, thereby, the concentration of growth factors — can be 5 to 10 times greater (or richer) than usual. Numerous well-known athletes have PRP injections to heal sprains and chronic tendon problems. They credit PRP with assisting their recovery and getting them back in the game quicker.
How PRP is administered to aid healing and reduce inflammation
To develop a PRP preparation your doctor will draw blood from you. The platelets are separated from other blood cells and their concentration is increased during a process called centrifugation. Then the increased concentration of platelets is combined with the remaining blood.
To speed healing, the injury site is treated with the PRP preparation. This can be done in one of two ways:
- PRP can be carefully injected into the injured area. For example, in Achilles tendonitis, a condition commonly seen in runners and tennis players, the heel cord can become swollen, inflamed, and extremely painful. A mixture of PRP and local anesthetic can be injected directly into the inflamed tissue. Afterwards, the pain at the area of injection may actually increase for the first week or two, and it may be several weeks before the patient feels a beneficial effect.
- PRP may also be used to improve healing after surgery for some injuries. For example, an athlete with a completely torn heel cord may require surgery to repair the tendon. Healing of the torn tendon can possibly be improved by treating the injured area with PRP during surgery. This is done by preparing the PRP in a special way that allows it to actually be stitched into torn tissues.
PRP has shown some encouraging results but is not always successful. A detailed discussion with Dr. Frankel can determine if PRP is right for you.