Platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, is one of the promising new treatments that seek to stimulate your body’s power to heal itself by targeting the natural repair and development factors of the body to create new tissue. PRP therapy can accelerate the healing of otherwise slow healing areas such as tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints.
What is PRP?
Your blood is based on a liquid composed of water and proteins. This is the plasma. It allows your red and white blood cells and platelets to circulate through your veins, arteries and capillaries to nurture and purify your body. Plasma is crucial to the protection of your body from infections and a range of blood disorders that could lead to organ or vascular degeneration.
Platelets move throughout the body and have the ability to recognize blood vessel damage and form a clot to prevent further bleeding and to repair the damage. PRP is a special preparation made by taking a few tubes of your blood and separating out the platelets from the white and red blood cells. This is done by means of a centrifuge. The resulting PRP is used for a number of regenerative therapies.
How does PRP work?
Studies have shown that applying concentrations of active platelets via an injection to an injury can potentially accelerate recovery. It is believed that the growth factors in PRP stimulate the body to repair itself.
PRP therapy is a relatively new science and has shown promise in shortening the healing process and relieving pain. Medical professionals have used PRP treatments since the mid 1990’s to help accelerate bone healing after spinal injuries and surgery as well as soft tissue recovery. More recently, PRP has been popularized by media coverage of its use in professional sports-related injuries. These treatments typically center around tendon damage from sports activities.
- A chronic activity causes a tendon tear in the knee or elbow.
- Microscopic tearing in the tendon occurs, which forms scar tissue.
- As scar tissue accumulated, blood supply to the area diminishes. Tendons already have relatively poor blood supply.
- Physical activity is repeated before full healing can occur.
- The injury becomes chronic, but the body has a difficult time supplying enough growth factors to the area.
- PRP injections to the area bring these nutrients into direct play with the injury.
- The wealth of growth factors at the injured site stimulate a more vigorous healing.
Does PRP therapy work?
Research is ongoing to establish the efficacy of this therapy but there are many cases where it has produced a very desirable result. It is a low risk procedure that has been known to stimulate healing in persistent tendon and ligament injuries as well as promoting faster healing from surgical operations. As research evolves, doctors are finding ways to improve results by combining PRP and other advanced regenerative treatments to optimize healing.