Platelet Rich Plasma Injections
Platelet rich plasma injections at a glance
- Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections administer concentrated platelets from the patient’s own blood into damaged cartilage and tendons to reduce pain and to aid in the healing process.
- PRP rebuilds these tissues and can be used in common tendon injuries, such as tennis elbow, and to repair cartilage due to osteoarthritis or other damage.
- PRP injections consist of extracting a blood sample, concentrating the platelets and injecting them into injured areas of the body.
- PRP injections are sometimes performed in a series, but many patients only require one injection to see results.
What are platelet rich plasma injections?
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection is a non-surgical procedure that helps patients suffering from tendon injuries, such as tennis elbow, or osteoarthritis by attempting to accelerate the healing process in the soft tissue. PRP injections, which also reduce pain from these injuries, provide another treatment option, especially as an alternative to surgery and cortisone shots.
The injections are comprised of the patient’s own platelets separated from the blood by a centrifuge. The platelets are concentrated in blood plasma, the liquid in blood that holds cells in suspension. The platelets are thought to release protein growth compounds and stimulate healing.
Initially used in the dentistry field to help implants and jaw reconstruction procedures heal, PRP injections are now commonly used by orthopedists and sports medicine professionals for their benefit in treating injuries, particularly sports injuries. Many professional athletes and sports teams use PRP injections to treat and heal common injuries.
Common conditions that PRP injections may help include:
- Tennis elbow
- Osteoarthritis of the knee, spin, shoulder and hip
- ACL injuries
- Achilles tendinitis
- Ankle sprains
How are platelet rich plasma injections given?
The patient’s blood sample is placed in a centrifuge that spins the blood at such a high speed that the platelets separate out from the red blood cells and plasma. The platelets and the blood plasma are injected into the injured area, often guided by ultrasound image. The entire procedure takes one hour.
PRP injection frequency will vary depending on the patient and injury. Some patients receive a series of injections over the course of several weeks, while other patients can experience relief after one session.
Platelet rich plasma injections effectiveness and considerations
PRP is a relatively new procedure and more research is ongoing to fully measure the procedure’s effectiveness. Many published studies suggest that PRP injections are effective in relieving pain, helping healing and providing an alternative to surgery.
Because the patient’s own blood is used in the procedure, there is no risk of transfusion reaction. The most common reaction is injection site pain that can last from minutes to a few days. We currently recommend that patients stop anti-inflammatory medications before receiving PRP and until two weeks after.