PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma. Platelet rich plasma is harvested from your own blood and involves the isolation of the portion of blood that includes growth and healing factors that would be injected back into the area of concern, usually and joint space or tendon. While PRP use in sports and orthopedic medicine has been increasing in recent years, it has been used since the mid-1990’s in dental and oral surgery and to aid in soft tissue recovery following plastic surgery.
Who has used PRP therapy?
PRP treatment recently gained widespread recognition in the sports world when Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers received PRP therapy prior to winning Super Bowl XLIII. Other high profile athletes include Tiger Woods who received four treatments following knee surgery and pitchers Takashi Saito and Bartolo Colon — both recent examples of PRP success in Major League Baseball.
How is PRP administered?
PRP therapy, which takes approximately thirty minutes to prepare and complete, begins with collection of 30 milliliters of the patient’s blood. Using a negative pressure extraction technique, the platelets are fractured freeing the growth and healing factors within. After a centrifuge process which involves spinning the sample to separate the PRP from whole blood components, The fractionated PRP is injected into the site of the injury or pain. Platelets function as a natural reservoir for growth factors that are essential to repair injured tissues. The growth factors that the platelets secrete stimulate tissue recovery by increasing collagen production, enhancing tendon stem cell proliferation, and tenocyte-related gene and protein expression. These growth factors also stimulate blood flow and cause cartilage to become more firm and resilient. PRP activates tenocytes to proliferate quickly and produce collagen to repair injured tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and muscles.
Will I feel immediate results from PRP therapy?
You may feel a notable increase in pain or a fullness in the injected area in the days immediately following the injection. Pain intensity becomes less each day as functional mobility and general functional ability increase along with endurance and strength. You will notice gradual improvement 2-6 weeks after PRP therapy. Some patients report ongoing improvement 6-9 months after PRP therapy is administered. In some studies, Ultrasound and MRI images have shown definitive tissue repair has occurred after PRP therapy, supporting the proof of the healing process. By treating injured tissues before the damage progresses, surgical intervention may be avoided.
Is PRP therapy a substitute for surgery? Why does it (in theory) work?
Not necessarily. While many chronic conditions may respond to PRP therapy, obviating the need for a surgical procedure, it is impossible to predict which will respond and which will fail to do so. A chronic, incompletely healed condition is characterized by excessive scar tissue within the tendon/ligament. This may lead to impaired joint function or leave the tendon or ligament susceptible to re-injury or complete disruption. This inferior, or in some cases, aborted, healing process is due to poor blood supply to the injury site. Most tendons have a poor blood supply and often are the site of microscopic tears or chronic scarring. The body naturally has a difficult time healing these structures. PRP is thought to initiate a response that makes the chronic condition appear to be a new injury, and thus, provoke a new/renewed healing response. This new healing response is then augmented by the super-concentrated healing factors contained within the PRP. Therefore, with PRP therapy in combination with appropriate reconditioning, we may improve the chance of healing and diminish the opportunity for escalation of the injury. A positive result may lead to a decrease need for surgical intervention.
Call 405-285-4762 to schedule your PRP consultation