PRP injection or Platelet Rich Plasma injections are injections of one’s own concentrated platelets to stimulate recovery in non-healing soft tissue injuries. The injection of Platelet Rich Plasma causes proliferation of fibroblasts and other immune cells, thereby accelerating the regeneration of injured tissues.
Background on PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma)
PRP is derived from your own blood by taking a sample of venous blood, placing it in a special tube, and spinning the blood in a centrifuge for about 15 minutes. This separates the whole blood into its components including red blood cells, platelets and plasma (the non-cellular fluid in the blood). The middle layer constitutes PRP, which contains highly concentrated platelets, the cells that promote blood clotting. These include platelet derived growth factor, transforming growth factor beta, and vascular endothelial growth factor. These factors interact with the local cells and send signals that initiate a variety of events such as cell devision and migration.
The basic idea behind PRP injection is to deliver high concentrations of growth factors to an area of injury, with the hope of stimulating a healing response and reducing inflammation in the tissue. Chronic injuries may not have the proper blood flow to repair the injury. Platelet rich plasma is an indirect therapy to stimulate local healing to a chronic injury. Regenerative medicine is the process of using your own healing cells to exaggerate your natural healing response.
PRP has been used since about 1987 to help promote healing in dental, orthopedic, and plastic surgery procedures. Over about the past 5 years, PRP has been recognized for its potential in treating both chronic and acute injuries involving tendons, ligaments and muscles. This procedure is gaining wide media attention as it has been used in professional athletes in attempts to return them to competition as soon as possible.
Potential Benefits and Risks
Injection of PRP into degenerated or partially torn tendons in tennis elbow has been shown to be effective in the majority of patients, however, these results may not translate directly to your condition. As such, how effective PRP will be in treating your particular condition is not known. Most PRP injections are being done in areas of degeneration or tendinopathy which are causing pain for the patient. Examples include the Achilles tendon, elbow tendons, rotator cuff, hamstring tendons, knee and ankle tendons, and spinal tendons and ligaments. There have also been studies of PRP being used for meniscus lesions in the knee, as well as MCL and ACL.
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