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What Is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy?

What Is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy?
What Is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy?

What Are Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections?

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections are have been in use for a number of years now and are an alternative treatment for managing chronic tendinopathy and degenerative joint disease such as osteoarthritis.
Platelets are our cells of healing and repair and the basic science behind PRPP injections is that they aim to harness this ‘healing potential’ of the patients own blood to stimulate a regenerative process in tendons.

  • PRP is defined as a solution that has a concentration of platelets that is above the baseline concentration of whole blood.

It is well documented that tendon conditions heal slowly sometimes taking 12-18 months to improve. Much of this slow healing is attributed to poor blood supply to the area.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections Bridging The Gap Between Conservative And Surgical Treatment

For the small proportion of patients who do not improve with conservative treatment (being medication and physiotherapy) and require further treatment PRP now offers an option of treatment filling the gap between standard conservative treatment and surgical treatment.

Initially in the infancy of the treatment approach whole blood was injected around the affected tendons with a view to stimulating a healing response. This progressed to harnessing the active healing component of blood by concentrating the platelets and removing from the injection solution the parts of the patients blood that are not considered as useful for healing (the red blood cells and excess plasma).

It’s The Quality That Matters

It is suggested that it is the quality and therefore the way that the PRP solution is prepared that makes the difference. There is some questionable results in the research regarding PRP injections and some suggest this is possibly due to the preparation used in the research. And that ideally platelet concentrations should be greater than 4 times baseline.
It makes sense the effectiveness of the therapy is targeted to the appropriate area and as a result it is suggested where possible the PRP should be injected under ultrasound or other imaging guidance so to help maximize the accuracy of PRP delivery.

PRP A Relatively Safe Procedure

The main side-effect of PRP injection is pain at and around the injection site. This pain generally lasts for a few days yet the injection can take 2-3 weeks to take effect, but can take a good six weeks before pain improves.
A second or third injection can be performed if required if results from the first injection are unsatisfactory however ideally many or most will feel a single injection is enough.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) In A Nutshell

  • Injection of platelet rich plasma (PRP) theoretically enhances tissue healing in chronic tendon conditions and may also potentially improve pain in osteoarthritis, and articular cartilage.
  • As with most medicine success is not guaranteed but on average PRP is helpful in around 70% of patients.
  • It is advised however that money spent on having quality PRP meaning high concentration of platelets not just whole blood injected under imaging guidance will give you your best chance of success.

Disclaimer: This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific medical advice or assistance on What Is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy? should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist, orthopaedic surgeon, sports medicine speclaist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.

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