Platelet Rich Plasma
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) has been used for it's healing properties since the 1980s. PRP gained broad popularity in early 2009 when it was reported that two of the Pittsburg Steelers received PRP for their ankle injuries before their triumph at the Super Bowl. Now we have athletes such as Rafael Nadal and Tiger Woods to thank!
What is PRP?
PRP is a concentrated portion of your blood which has a large concentration of platelets. Platelets were once only known for their clotting potential but more recently they are known for their ability to send out variety of signals in order to activate an explosion of healing and growth factors. These growth factors play a role in the regeneration and repair.
This is what blood looks like after it is centrifuged at a certain rate and time. The layer in between the clear plasma above and maroon RBC layer is the buffy coat. The buffy coat has more than 9X the concentration of platelets than in your blood. This layer is extracted. Notice the device is specifically designed to obtain PRP. We do not take short cuts and use ordinary PRP kits which can be obtained for a few dollars. These kits can only concentrate to 2X the rate in your blood at best.
Has PRP been studied?
There are numerous studies published in journals which have tested the effectiveness of improving pain and mobility after PRP injections. These studies show promising results in the reduction of pain. Take for instance knee wear and tear arthritis. The degredation of cartilage is thought to be due to micro trauma which leads to the release of certain chemicals which are destrictive to the knee (TNF- alpha and IL-1). To add insult to injury, cartilage is devoid of blood vessels. This leads to chronic tears which do not heal.
I have injected PRP to treat tendon injuries such as rotator cuff injuries since 2014 and in the spine since 2016. Studies have shown significant healing of tendons and ligaments after treatment. Our patients have reported decreased pain and improved function after these injections.
After obtaining a blood sample, the blood is carefully centrifuged to obtain a concentrate at least 9 times the concentration in the blood. In our office, this is performed by a centrifuge specially designed for regenerative procedures. Then the PRP is extracted from the sample along with the growth factors. Then, the PRP is injected with image guidance into the area of concern.