What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)?
Platelet Rich Plasma (or PRP) is a mix of concentrated platelets and serum given as an injection to stimulate healing and healthy tissue regeneration at a site of injury.
Typically, damaged tissue areas (like tendons and cartilages) take much longer to heal (than other areas of the body) because they have a very poor blood supply. As a form of regenerative medicine, platelets can be harvested from a patient’s own blood and injected to concentrate an area of damaged tissue. Commonly known for their clotting abilities, platelets contain a wealth of growth factors and enzymes that act as natural healing mechanisms. PRP injections provide the damaged tissue with essential nutrients, stimulating an accelerated tissue repair and regeneration process.
Who is a Candidate for PRP Injections?
Typically, PRP injections are known to aid in the repair and regenerative process of individuals suffering from:
- Ligament and Muscle Tears
- Nerve Injuries
- Chronic Muscle Pain
The platelet rich plasma procedure is quite quick and relatively painless. The injection is almost always done in the physician’s office and the patient is normally out in about an hour and a half.
Prior to the injection, one to two ounces of blood is withdrawn from the patient and placed in a specialized centrifuge for roughly 15 minutes so that the platelets can be separated from the other components in the blood. Once separated, the platelets are put in a syringe and are ready for injection.
During the injection, the injured area is treated with a local anesthetic to numb any pain or discomfort the patient has. Once the anesthetic is in effect, the plate-rich plasma is re-injected into the area of injury. During the injection, the physician will use ultrasound to guide and ensure the proper placement of the platelet-rich plasma, maximizing the healing process.
What is the Recovery Process Like After Platelet Rich Plasma Injections?
Post-injection, patients are asked to lie down for roughly thirty minutes so that the physician can observe if the area of injury has responded positively to the injection.
The amount of pain experienced by the patient certainly varies depending on the severity of the injured area and the body’s reaction to the PRP injection. The two most common reasons for pain involve increased inflammation or pain from the injection itself. Patients are strictly forbidden to take aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medications; the physician will prescribe pain medication for those that need it. Applying ice is also recommended for pain management, particularly one to two days post-injection.
In terms of physical activity, it too varies from patient to patient depending on the injured area and the patient’s response to the injection. For most patients, they are able to return to work the following day. Patients should stay away from any activity that puts significant stress on the injected area for about four weeks. If a patient had a back injection, for example, playing football or any other contact sport is not recommended within the first four weeks post-injection.
Want to learn more or find out whether platelet rich plasma injection therapy is right for you?