An Introduction to Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment
What is it?
People living with conditions affecting cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and bone, such as tendinopathy and osteoarthritis1,2, stand to benefit from Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment. The aim of PRP is to give a biological “boost” to the natural healing process in the body.
As it is a treatment created by the patient themselves, it is a low risk option with possible benefits in terms of healing. PRP is not known to have any adverse effects, unlike the commonly used non steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that are known have effects on the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and renal systems of certain populations2.
Platelets : a type of cell whose function is to help clot the blood
Liquid plasma: the fluid part of the blood
Centrifuge: a piece of laboratory equipment which separates the blood into different parts
How it’s done?
PRP is actually produced from the patient’s own blood. The blood itself has different parts including platelets and liquid plasma – both critical components for healing and repair in the body1. A blood sample is obtained from the patient and is placed in a centrifuge. PRP is collected from the centrifuge and treated before being injected in the patient’s body, under ultrasound guidance.
What to do? The Before and After
The goal of of PRP treatment is to optimize the initial inflammatory response of healing, where nutrients and oxygen are in greater to supply to the affected tendon/ligament, thus helping it to help. For this to occur, anti-inflammatory medications (which prevent this inflammation) should be stopped prior to and after the PRP treatment3. It is important for the patient to avoid exercise for a short time after the treatment before resuming their rehabilitation program. However, your physician will guide you on regarding these medications and exercise for this type of treatment on an individualised basis.
Is it effective?
To date, in terms of evidence and clinical trials in the use of PRP, there are few well designed, high quality studies evaluating PRP1,2. More trials are needed to assess the effectiveness of PRP in different body structures. For example, weight-bearing tendons like the Achilles tendon (at the ankle) may require different treatment parameters to non-weight bearing tendons, like those in the shoulder.
Is it for you?
Although more studies need to be completed, it is a low-risk option that could be explored by patient candidates and attending physicians due to the potential for some pain relief and the possibility of increased rates of healing. Tanzina Khan, M.D., M.P.H., our newest physician at The Spine & Pain Institute of New York, has a special interest in this option for pain management. Learn more about Dr. Khan who is accepting new patients at our New Hyde Park office in Long Island by visiting her biography, here. For further information on PRP or to arrange an appointment, please call (516) 209-2357 or email us at Help@SpinePainNY.com.
- P Halpern et al. The Role of Platelet-Rich Plasma in Inducing Musculoskeletal Tissue Healing, HSSJ (2012) 8:137–145
- Zhou and Wang. PRP Treatment Efficacy for Tendinopathy: A Review of Basic Science Studies. BioMed Research International (2016) 7: 1-8.