Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a medical treatment being used for a wide range of musculoskeletal problems. Platelet rich plasma refers to a sample of blood plasma that has as much as eight times more than the normal amount of platelets. This treatment enhances the body’s natural ability to repair itself and is used to improve healing and shorten recovery time from acute and chronic soft tissue and joint injuries.
Many famous athletes — PGA’s Tiger Woods, NBA’s Lebron James, Steph Curry, MLS/Premiere Leage David Beckham and several others — have received PRP for various problems, such as sprained knees and chronic tendon injuries. Drs. Sung, Lee and Rinoie have had extensive experience with PRP as they have been providing this treatment to patients since 2015.
Plasma is the clear portion of the blood in which all the other blood components such as platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells travel. Platelets are part of the blood that circulate around the body ready to help stop the bleeding should you have a cut, broken bone or injury that bleeds internally. Besides containing clotting factors, the platelets release growth factors and proteins that help start the healing process. PRP contains a concentrated amount of platelets that release potent quantities of these growth factors and proteins to stimulate a robust healing response.
When injury occurs in the body, blood flow is needed to supply the necessary cells and nutrients to drive the healing process. There are certain areas in the body that have very limited blood flow. When injured, these areas with poor blood flow are more difficult to heal than other tissues that have good blood flow. This is especially true of tendons and cartilage including meniscus. So, how can you improve healing potential in tissue that does not have good blood flow? One answer is PRP. Injecting concentrated platelets delivers high volumes of growth factors and proteins that signal and drive your body’s healing response.
The main purpose of platelet rich plasma injection is to foster healing where it has not otherwise occurred or to speed up healing as in the case of an acute injury. Platelets release over 30 bioactive proteins and growth factors that enhance tissue regeneration and healing. The growth factors activate multiple types of cells required for tissue healing. They also stimulate protein production needed for regenerative processes including the formation of new blood vessels. The released proteins signal multiple types of healing cells to migrate into the area of injury and stimulate healing by growing new tissue.
Research and clinical data show that PRP treatments are extremely safe with minimal risk for any adverse reaction or complication. Because the injected platelets are produced from your own body, there is no concern for rejection or disease transmission. There is a small risk of infection from any injection, but this is very rare. PRP does not have the risk of negative side effects that can occur with steroid injections or NSAIDs.
Published studies suggest an improvement of 80-85% for many soft tissue injuries. PRP for arthritis has been shown to be more effective for pain and last longer than steroids and other injectables.
After PRP injection into your foot or ankle, there is usually minimal pain. However, with PRP injection into tendon or ligament, there is typically moderate pain for the first few days. Once you return home, you can use ice over the injected area, elevate the foot or leg and limit your activities as much as needed to remain comfortable. You will need to avoid all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naprosyn, Motrin, Advil, Aleve, Celebrex and Mobic as these can block the effect of the platelets.