Autologous platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection is an emerging treatment under a group of therapeutic agents known as ‘orthobiologics’. PRP therapy offers a promising solution to accelerate healing of tendon injuries without subjecting the patient to significant risk.
A small amount of venous blood is drawn from your arm using a specially designed needle and syringe. The syringe is then placed into a centrifuge and spun. This separates the plasma, which contains platelets and other growth factors, from the rest of the blood. The PRP is then injected directly into your injured or diseased body tissue.
Blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and platelets. Plasma is the liquid portion of whole blood, composed largely of water and proteins. It provides a medium for red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to circulate around the body. Platelets are blood cells that cause blood clots and other growth healing functions.
Concentrated platelets found in PRP contain huge reservoirs of bioactive proteins and growth factors that initiate and accelerate tissue repair and regeneration.
PRP has been found to enhance the healing process of soft tissue injury. However, PRP does not offer a 100% reduction in pain for all patients. Rather, PRP therapy should be used as part of a larger treatment plan to reduce pain and improve function.
Most doctors do not consider PRP injections a stand-alone or first-line treatment for injuries. The injections are one element in a multi-faceted rehabilitation treatment plan that may include activity modification, cold or heat therapy, anti-inflammatory medication and physiotherapy.
PRP injection is a safe procedure. There may be temporary pain, bleeding or bruising at the injection site. There is also a small risk of infection at the injection site, which typically presents with increased pain and redness 2-4 days after the injection, associated with fever.
Please see your family doctor immediately, or go to the A&E Department, if you suspect that you have developed an infection after an injection.
Patients are advised to take it easy for 48 hours after the injection and avoid putting strain on the affected joint. If there is pain during this period, ice and pain medication may be taken. Patients can usually resume normal activities of daily living right after the injection.