The body’s incredible capacity to heal itself merits a simple question: if we know the mechanisms and molecules involved, could we concentrate them at the sight of an injury and hasten recovery? Amazingly, the answer is yes, and it’s the basis for an innovative treatment known as Platelet Rich Plasma therapy (PRP).
Let’s break that down. Blood plasma is the fluid in which our blood cells swim. Platelets are small cell fragments—also present in blood but at a low concentration—that play a key role in the clotting and healing of injuries.
In PRP, the patient provides a sample of blood that is centrifuged down to separate the platelets from the plasma and red blood cells. The highly concentrated platelets are then prepared in a fluid injection, hence the name Platelet Rich Plasma therapy.
But how does this work? Increasing the platelet’s concentration augments the entire assembly line of molecules and reparative cells involved in healing. That’s because normal blood consists of about 93% red blood cells whereas PRP consists of 95% platelets. By directly injecting such a high concentration of platelets at the site of the injury, we’re able to stimulate healing in the bone and soft tissue faster than the body’s own natural process.
PRP used to be reserved for pro-athletes whose careers depended upon the short healing times it provided. But now the technique has gone mainstream, and has become one of the go-to options for injuries such as tennis elbow, Achilles tendinitis, and runner’s knee.
In some cases, PRP therapy can eliminate the need for surgery or, if surgery is warranted, be applied as part of the procedure to accelerate rehabilitation. And while recovery times vary from patient to patient, studies have shown that PRP can accelerate healing by up to 40% for certain conditions.
The only catch is that PRP is not a panacea for any and every injury, but that’s why we’re here to answer any questions you may have and find out if PRP might be the best option to get you back in form.