What Is PRP?
Platelet- Rich Plasma is a form of treatment that has gotten more and more popular recently, particularly within sporting circles.
In a nutshell, it is an injection that uses a patients own platelets to accelerate healing times for muscles, ligaments, joints and (as it is most commonly used for) tendons.
What Are Platelets And Plasma?
Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood. It is mainly made out of water, and allows red blood cells to move through the body. Platelets are the blood cells that cause clotting and allow growth healing functions. The injection contains a larger proportion of these type of blood cells than a normal sample of blood.
How Does PRP Work?
PRP will start by first taking a vial of the patients own blood (this may be one or a few tubes). It is then run through a centrifuge, which will allow the platelets to be concentrated, and therefore easily extracted.
After being extracted, this Platelet- Rich Plasma is then injected directly to the injured or diseased tissue. Growth factors are then stimulated in this structure.
The theory is that by stimulating growth factors in a structure that may not normally have much blood flow (or platelets), we can accelerate healing. Tendons and cartilage are a good example of this. Neither structure has much blood flow naturally and therefore healing times can be slow.
PRP and Physiotherapy
Post PRP you may or may not be instructed for a period of relative rest, depending on the structure that has been treated.
After that, your rehab starts.
The goal of rehab is to make sure the treated structure is gradually loaded up again. We also need to make sure the muscles around the injury are built up as well.
What Does The Research Say?
Evaluating the research with PRP can be difficult, as it really varies depending on the injury. One study looking at PRP in knee arthritis, said it was no better than a placebo.
Another meta- analysis showed that it can have good effects for rotator cuff and tennis elbow injuries
PRP is a treatment becoming more and more common and the costs for it is becoming less and less. You will need to discuss with your physio/GP/Sports Doctor whether this is appropriate for you.