What is platelet-rich plasma therapy?
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is plasma concentrated from blood drawn from a patient’s own arm. Platelets are a part of our bodies’ natural response to injury and contain a high level of bioactive proteins and growth factors that facilitate treatment of damaged or injured tissues. This treatment is attractive because it uses the patient’s own tissue to improve healing.
To create a PRP injection, blood is drawn from the body and spun at high speeds in a process called centrifugation. After the blood has finished spinning, the concentrated platelets are added to a plasma solution to be injected back into the patient. The platelets contain a number of growth factors that play a role in the healing response. PRP is an autologous injection, which means it contains cells from your own body. As a result, this treatment has little to no risk of an allergic or immune reaction.
What can be expected with a PRP injection?
Patients who plan to undergo a PRP injection should refrain from using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medications such as Aleve® or Advil® for one week prior to the injection.
During the procedure, the physician will first apply a local anesthetic spray at the injection site. Then, the injection is placed into the appropriate spot on the body and is sometimes performed with ultrasound guidance.
What should be expected following a PRP injection?
After the appointment, patients may experience mild pain or soreness for a few days. Ice therapy, as well as taking acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®), can help alleviate symptoms. Patients should refrain from taking NSAIDs for one week after an injection. They may also be asked to avoid strenuous activity immediately after receiving an injection or while treatment is ongoing.
What does the research say about PRP therapy?
At University Orthopaedic Associates (UOA), we are committed to providing the most modern orthopaedic care with a focus on evidence-based medicine. We are proud to offer our patients new, promising treatment options such as PRP injections, but also value transparency with what we know about the results.
Much has been written about the use of PRP injections in recent years, and this continues to be a focus of ongoing orthopaedic research. Furthermore, many media outlets and lay press articles promise wide-reaching outcomes with PRP and stem cells that have not been validated by long-term research.
What we do know is that PRP and other biologic treatments have shown promising outcomes in animal and basic science research as well as early clinical studies. We believe that PRP can speed up and augment the body’s natural healing response to reduce pain and improve healing. The current literature supports the efficacy of PRP injections to reduce pain and improve function for the treatment of early knee arthritis and various tendon disorders in the elbow, ankle, knee, hip and shoulder.
For more information on injection therapy or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, contact us today.