Platelet-rich plasma therapy, or PRP therapy,
is a non-surgical treatment for tendon, ligament and muscle injuries.
Platelets are cells of the blood and are best known for their function in blood clotting.
Activated platelets also release many growth factors and other cellular signaling proteins
that are necessary for the process of wound healing. Platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, is
plasma that has many more platelets than normal blood plasma. PRP therefore contains increased
concentrations of these factors, commonly by 5 to 10 folds, and is believed to speed
up the process of healing. In this procedure, a certain amount of blood
is drawn from the patient. The components of blood are then separated, and thus concentrated,
in a process called centrifugation. The fraction of blood that contains the platelets is collected
and injected into the site of injury. As PRP is taken from the patient’s own blood,
the risks associated with PRP injections are minimal.
PRP therapy is most effective in treating chronic tendon injuries, notably tennis elbow
– a common injury of the tendons on the outside of the elbow. However, its effectiveness in
treating acute injuries and other conditions remains to be proven. Nevertheless, PRP therapy
is gaining popularity as it is a low risk treatment and has potential to improve healing.