What is PRP?
The term platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) refers to a concentrated solution of growth factors that is derived from your own blood and injected directly at the site of injury to treat a variety of acute and chronic conditions.
How is PRP prepared?
First, a small sample of your blood is obtained through a typical blood draw using a vein in your arm. The sample is then centrifuged at high speed to separate the whole blood into various layers. The layer of plasma containing the highest concentration of platelet cells (platelet-rich-plasma or PRP) is extracted and mixed with calcium chloride to stimulate release of the growth factors contained within the platelets. The solution is then injected directly at the site of injury, often under ultrasound guidance for accurate placement.
How does PRP work?
When the body sustains an injury resulting in tissue damage and bleeding, platelets are among the first cells to arrive at the site of injury. They first function to stimulate the clotting cascade and stop any ongoing bleeding. Once bleeding has ceased, they release growth factors contained within specialized granules to recruit other cells to the site of injury that help to debride any damaged tissue and build new tissue. Some of the growth factors promote new blood vessel formation and improved oxygen delivery. PRP contains these same growth factors at 10 – 100x the normal concentration, significantly accelerating the healing process.
What can PRP be used to treat?
The applications of PRP are extensive and include:
- Acute muscle tears or severe muscle strains
- Partial thickness tendon tears
- Chronic tendinosis/degeneration
- Early/mild arthritis
- Surface cartilage lesions
- To supplement healing following surgery (ACL reconstruction, meniscus repair, etc.)
How successful is PRP?
The vast majority of scientific studies have produced good to excellent outcomes in 80 – 90% of appropriately selected patients undergoing PRP injections, but keep in mind “success” may be defined differently for each patient. Some patients are happy with 1 – 2 years of relief given that the only other option would have been a joint replacement. In the setting of a partial thickness tear that fails to heal naturally, patients can expect to see complete resolution of their problem with PRP. The reproducibility of these results is dependent on many factors including age and specific diagnosis. Dr. Garabekyan will help you understand your unique condition and what you stand to gain with PRP injections, so that you can define realistic goals and expectations.
Am I a good candidate for PRP injections?
Whether PRP injections are a worthwhile option for you depends on a number of factors, including:
- Your age
- Your particular diagnosis or pattern of injury
- The extent of arthritis or cartilage damage
In general, the outcomes of PRP injections are best in the setting of partial thickness tendon tears, early arthritis, and as a supplement to surgical repair. Dr. Garabekyan will guide you through the various considerations in helping you decide whether PRP injections are right for you.
Choosing the treatment option that is right for you involves careful consideration of your diagnosis, duration and severity of symptoms, desired level of activity, as well as social and financial elements. You are not alone in this process.
As you research your condition, please write down all of your questions and bring them with you to your next appointment. Dr. Garabekyan and his team will take time to address all of your concerns, until you are completely satisfied with your treatment plan.
We look forward to helping you get your life back.