A LITTLE HELP
FROM THE LAB.
PRP is plasma with more platelets than usual. Our blood consists of several different components: a liquid component known as plasma, and three main solid components which include red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets. Platelet-rich plasma or PRP is plasma containing a high concentration of platelets due to a separation process in the lab.
WHAT ARE PLATELETS
Platelets are blood cells that when inactive look like tiny dinner plates. Just like a first responder, when an injury occurs, platelets hurry to the damaged area to begin the recovery process. Weirdly once there, they change shape and grow little arms which all pull together and hold any torn tissue. You could think of it like an army of little robots sent to the scene to discover what is wrong, stop the bleeding (literally) and start the rebuilding process (literally).
One example of the work of platelets can be seen when we cut ourselves and the bleeding stops within a few minutes. Platelets are responsible for stopping the bleeding and forming a scab.
But platelets do a lot more than form scabs when we are bleeding. They consist of special proteins known as growth factors which stimulate the body’s healing process. They are responsible for nudging the body to begin to make collagen, which is the foundation of most of the tissue in our bodies.
When we have a good blood supply, platelets can easily arrive to different areas of the body, like surfing a good wave . However, there are many areas the platelets cannot reach. For example, these would include the knee meniscus, the hip labrum, the spinal discs, the TMJ joint in the jaw. In the many other areas of the body that they cannot easily reach, those parts of the body may not heal very well and can result in chronic (long term) pain.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections involve taking a patient’s own blood and “centrifuging it” (spinning it around an axis at high speed) to separate the different components. The platelets, plasma and red blood cells all become sparated and are collected. The platelets and blood plasma make up PRP.
PRP injections consist of extracting a blood sample, concentrating the platelets and injecting them into an injured area of the body.
PRP helps reduce joint inflammation from osteoarthritis and can be used as a safe alternative to cortisone injections.
PRP injections introduce concentrated platelets from the patient’s own blood into damaged tissue to reduce pain and to aid in the healing process.
PRP promotes a reparative response and can be used in common tendon injuries including tendon scarring from injury or overuse and tendon tears.
PRP injections are sometimes performed in a series, but many patients require only one injection to see results.
Because the patient’s own blood is used in the procedure, there is no risk of transfusion reaction. The most common reaction is injection site pain that can last a few days to a few weeks.
There are very minimal risks associated with PRP injections. Some of the potential risks include:
- Increased pain at the injection site
- Damage to adjacent nerves or tissues
- Formation of scar tissue
- Calcification at the injection site