Our blood is composed of red and white blood cells as well as what’s known as platelets. Platelets play an important role in blood clotting, but they also possess a great number of vital proteins known as growth factors. These growth factors are critical components that help the body heal from injury. Today, platelet rich plasma (PRP), is one of the most popular, though experimental, alternative treatments to surgery.
PRP plasma mixture being created during the procedure.
PRP is a plasma mixture that contains a much greater concentration of platelets (as much as 10 times as many growth factors than what is normally found in blood).
“PRP is a derivative of your blood,” says Bradd G. Burkart, M.D., a board certified orthopaedic surgery specializing in sports medicine, knee and shoulder surgery. “What we do is we draw some blood out of a peripheral intravenous and then spin it down in the centrifuge. We then take the layer that includes the platelets and the growth factors, put it into a syringe and reinject it back into your body, in the joint for arthritis, or into a tendon for tendonitis.”
Although it’s not known precisely how PRP works, medical studies have indicated the higher aggregation of growth factors in PRP can accelerate the healing process.
“PRP has been shown, in some cases, to create a significant reduction in the amount of healing time and it makes people feel quite a bit better,” says Dr. Burkhart. “With knee arthritis for instance, (PRP) has been shown to give people relief for up to a year. It’s also been shown to work really well for things like tennis elbow and tendonitis in other areas.”