How does PRP therapy work?
Before your body becomes a pin cushion, you’ll donate a small amount of your own blood for the treatment. Once the blood is drawn, it’s rapidly spun in a centrifuge so that it separates. Light particles like red blood cells float to the top, while heavier blood platelets fall to the bottom. Your doctor will fill a syringe with those separated platelets suspended in a teensy amount of blood plasma, and inject them into your injured area.
The idea is that the high concentration of platelets jump starts the body’s self-healing and spreads growth factors to areas otherwise untouched by blood (like ligaments, tendons, and joints). When the platelets are done doing their thing, the body will have repaired damaged muscle or tissue.
Because PRP uses your own blood, there’s no risk of rejection. In other words: The treatment is more or less risk-free. (OK, OK, there’s always a slight risk when it comes to injections. Even if you’re shooting cortisone in your body, there’s a chance of infection. Consider yourself warned.
What Can I Use PRP For?
- PRP can be carefully injected into the injured area. For example, in Achilles tendonitis, a condition commonly seen in runners and tennis players, the heel cord can become swollen, inflamed, and painful. A mixture of PRP and local anesthetic can be injected directly into this inflamed tissue. Afterwards, the pain at the area of injection may actually increase for the first week or two, and it may be several weeks before the patient feels a beneficial effect.
- PRP may also be used to improve healing after surgery for some injuries. For example, an athlete with a completely torn heel cord may require surgery to repair the tendon. Healing of the torn tendon can possibly be improved by treating the injured area with PRP during surgery. This is done by preparing the PRP in a special way that allows it to actually be stitched into torn tissues.
Helpful Platelet Rich Plasma Resources
Before and After Photos of a PRP Blood Smear
To the right you will see two slides, the first is a blood smear without the injection of PRP. The second represents how the blood cells react when PRP is introduced to the slide.