Many professional athletes have turned to platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy in recent years to promote the healing of injured tendons, muscle sprains, and other soft tissues. Certain formulations have shown significant promise in treating pain associated with osteoarthritis. It’s a unique therapy that may also benefit others dealing with similar injuries, especially those that are slow to heal. PRP involves the use of a patient’s own blood to promote healing and supplement typical remedies involving medication and physical therapy.
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy?
Although blood is mainly a liquid (plasma), it also contains small solid components (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.) The platelets are best known for their importance in clotting blood, but platelets also contain hundreds of growth factors which are important for injury healing.
PRP, as it’s name states, is platelet enriched plasma. There are many more platelets in a given volume of PRP than are typically found in blood. The concentration of platelets-and, thereby, the concentration of growth factors-can be 5 to 10 times greater than what is naturally found.
To prepare a PRP injection, blood is drawn from a patient. The platelets are separated from other blood cells and their concentration is increased during a process called centrifugation. The preparation is then injected into the painful area/joint to speed the healing process.
Conditions Treated by PRP Therapy
PRP therapy has attracted attention for its use for ligament and muscle injuries in athletes. It may also be used to facilitate the healing of: