Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections
What is PRP?
Your blood is made up of different components including plasma, platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells. Platelet‐rich plasma is a portion of your blood with high levels of platelets, which contain many important growth factors. PRP is generated by drawing your blood and then placing it in a special centrifuge machine which spins the blood down rendering different components. One of layers created through the spinning process is the platelet‐rich plasma.
Who is a candidate for a PRP injection?
Platelets play an important role in the healing process by helping generate new tissue and blood vessels. PRP can be injected into and around damaged tendons to assist the body in trying to stimulate new healthy tissue and thereby treat chronic pain. Patients with chronic tendon injuries (pain > 3 months), that have failed other conservative treatments including rest, bracing, medications, and physical therapy may consider PRP injections. These chronic tendon injuries are believed to be dormant, with no active healing occurring. Examples of chronic tendon injuries that may be amenable to PRP injections include lateral epicondylosis (tennis elbow), medial epicondylosis (golfer's elbow), patellar tendinitis, achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis.
How is the procedure performed?
The patient first will first undergo a blood draw. The blood is then placed in a special centrifuge separating out the plasma‐rich platelet portion. This takes about 15 minutes. During this time, your physician will inject a small amount of anesthetic to numb the affected area. After the centrifuge the PRP is injected into and around the damaged tendon.
What do I do after the injection?
Generally the patient is asked to rest the affected tendon for about a week. They will then initiate some stretching, followed by some gentle strengthening exercises. The patient can typically return to normal activities by ~ 4 weeks. Since the major goal of the injection is to kick‐start the healing process, it is important to not take anti‐ inflammatory medications (Advil, Aleve, etc.) during the month after the injection. Inflammation is an important part of the early healing process. There can be moderate pain associated with the injection during the first few days, and your physician may provide you with a prescription for a pain medication. Tylenol is a good option for milder pain.
When should I expect to feel better?
Most individuals will notice improvement after the first month, with maximal improvement occurring after 2‐3 months. Patients who note only partial relief from the injection may be candidates for a repeat injection approximately 2 months after the first injection.