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What is PRP?

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) is a regenerative medicine therapy that uses the natural growth factors in blood to promote healing. It involves the concentration of platelets from the patient’s own blood and the subsequent injection into injured soft tissues. The goal is to enhance the body’s natural healing processes to accelerate healing and improve outcomes for soft tissue injuries.

Platelets are best known for their blood clotting ability, but they are a natural reservoir of hundreds of biologically active proteins called growth factors that play a key role in wound healing and tissue repair. When there is an injury or inflammation, platelets flood the area to stop bleeding, and heal damaged tissues.

PRP is derived from your own blood which contains numerous growth factors and proteins that have been shown to initiate and promote healing. It does this by stimulating cell proliferation, stem cell migration and blood vessel growth to facilitate the natural healing process. Increased concentration of growth factors catalyze the body’s repair mechanisms and shorten recovery time. The protocol may involve one injection or several injections over time. Because PRP is made from your own blood, there is no risk of allergic reaction.

A small amount of blood is drawn from the patient just like a normal blood draw. The blood is then spun to separate the platelets and concentrate them. It typically results in platelet concentration that is 3 to 5 times greater than that of normal blood. The PRP is then injected into the injured area often guided by ultrasound imaging.

  • Rotator cuff injuries: PRP has been used during rotator cuff repair surgery to help tissues heal more quickly. It can also be used in the nonsurgical management of rotator cuff tears.
  • Tendons, ligaments and cartilage do not have a rich blood supply.
    • Tendon injuries: PRP has been used to treat chronic tendon problems, such as tennis elbow, Achilles tendinitis, and jumper’s knee. The growth factors in PRP can potentially enhance surgical tendon repair and reduce inflammation. PRP is used to reduce pain and improve activity levels.
    • Surgical augmentation: PRP is used to expedite healing and recovery time from rotator cuff repair and ACL ligament reconstruction, and after meniscus repair.
    • Ligament injuries: It has been used in the nonsurgical management of acute hamstring and ankle ligament injuries in athletes. Studies note that it provided full recovery significantly earlier than without use, and reduced pain and inflammation. Other studies report that athletes receiving PRP returned to play sooner and had less significant pain.
  • Plantar Fasciitis: PRP treatments produced better outcomes, improved function and reduced pain and disability.
  • Meniscus injuries: PRP injected to repair a degenerated meniscus, produced a significant improvement in the rate of meniscus healing and decreased necessity for arthroscopy in the future.
  • Osteoarthritis: There is good evidence to support the use of PRP in the treatment osteoarthritis of the knee and hip. It improved symptoms and function for a year.
  • Lateral epicondylitis: PRP improved outcomes for up to two years when compared to steroid injections.
  • Bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and muscle injuries: PRP is used to reduce pain and inflammation, and slow joint degeneration.
  • Sports Medicine: There are multiple studies that showed positive outcomes from the application of PRP in sports medicine, producing statistically significant results for an athlete’s ability to return to play quicker and with decreased pain with acute ankle ligament injuries, and acute hamstring injuries, and improves exercise-induced muscle damage. It is also used to treat sprains and chronic tendon injuries.It may be beneficial in elite athletes to aid in recovery, especially in high intensity training to reduce injuries and improve performance. Overhead athletes with ulnar collateral ligament elbow injuries can be successfully managed conservatively with PRP injections and can improve rehabilitation leading to a high rate of return to play.

Schedule an orthopaedic consultation

At Silicon Valley Orthopedics, we treat athletes and non-athletes alike with cutting edge techniques and procedures as well as nonsurgical options that will help healing when time and patience are in order. Contact us to schedule a consultation at one of our offices in Fremont, Los Gatos or Menlo Park. We strive to provide all of our patients with world-class compassionate and personalized orthopedic care aimed at your specific needs.