What is Platelet Rich Plasma?
Blood is composed of a number of different substances. The liquid component is called plasma and platelets (also called thrombocytes), the part of the blood that helps it clot when you bleed. In addition, platelets contain growth factors that play an important role in the body’s natural healing process. Platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, is simply plasma that contains a higher-than-usual concentration of platelets, about 5 to 10 times the normal number.
How is PRP made?
PRP is created by drawing a sample of your own blood through a needle, similar to how blood is taken for a blood donation or for lab work. The blood is placed in a special machine that separates the platelets from the rest of the blood. The platelets then go through an additional process called centrifugation to increase the number of platelets. Once centrifugation is complete, the platelets are re-combined with the remaining blood and injected back into your body to promote healing at a site of injury.
How Does PRP Promote Healing?
Packed with growth and healing factors, platelets initiate repair and attract the critical assistance of stem cells. When injected into an injured area of the body, PRP’s natural healing process intensifies the body’s efforts by delivering a higher concentration of platelets directly into the area in need.
When is PRP Used?
Osteoarthritis, which involves the breakdown of cartilage in the joints, is one of the major conditions treated by platelet-rich plasma therapy. Platelet-rich plasma can also be used to heal tendon and ligament problems that result in hip pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, and elbow pain. Many of these problems stem from the wear and tear caused by the repetitive motions involved in certain sports, and athletes are increasingly using platelet-rich plasma therapy to treat tennis elbow and other sports injuries. PRP can also be used during surgery to jump-start the healing process immediately following the surgical procedure.
What is the PRP Injection Recovery Time?
After a PRP injection, patients may experience soreness for 2-3 days, and pain medication may be prescribed. Following treatment, we recommend that patients rest for a few days or weeks after the treatment in order to prevent the injected tissue from being exerted too quickly. Typically, pain relief starts to occur within three to four weeks, and continues to improve over a period of three to six months following an injection. The recovery time frame varies depending on which area was treated. Sometimes arthritic joints respond much faster to PRP injections than a patient being treated for tendonitis.