What is PRP Therapy?
PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma, which is a new type of non-surgical treatment for sports medicine and other types of injuries. Platelet rich plasma is blood that has been specially prepared to reduce the number of red and white blood cells. This then increases the proportion of platelets in the blood, which are the cells most responsible for blood clotting and healing.
The theory behind platelet rich plasma is that when this fluid, which is taken from the patient and re-injected into an injured area, it then provides an increased boost of healing to an area that is having difficulty healing from an injury. It has been used now for several years in orthopedics and is used in many other fields of surgery as well. It is becoming increasingly popular as a form of treatment before considering surgery, especially amongst elite athletes.
The PRP procedure involves taking a sample of blood from the patient and spinning it in a centrifuge. Next, using a specialized optical sensor machine, the platelets are concentrated with the plasma to obtain the fluid to be re-injected. In our practice, we use an ultrasound guidance machine, so the surgeon can see exactly where the needle is going to deliver the medication.
Who is a good candidate for this procedure?
The best candidates for the PRP procedure are patients with muscular or tendon injuries that are not improving, despite trying other methods.
Our experience is primarily in patients with shoulder, elbow, and knee injuries. It is also becoming more popular to use PRP as a non-surgical treatment of arthritis, especially in the knee. In these circumstances this is still a very new procedure and solid research on outcomes is still pending.
What are the benefits?
The primary benefit of PRP therapy is that it helps promote healing and relieve pain in an area of injury without surgery. In our experience, it is most often done for a patient who has not responded or improved with other forms of non-surgical treatment and would like to try an alternative before undergoing surgery. In many instances, PRP has been successful in this regard.