PRP, which is the abbreviation for platelet rich plasma, has been in the news for a number of years. It is often associated with a high profile athlete who has received it for a variety of different reasons.  Most of the conditions it is being used for are tendonitis and sprained knees. The reason for the publicity is that it has allowed athletes to return to sports much quicker then prior historical treatments such as physical therapy and medications.

What Makes Up Platelet Rich Plasma ?

PRP is derived from blood.  There are many products that make up blood components: red cells, white cells and platelets.  What has been found is that platelets contain growth factors that can help with healing certain orthopedic injuries such as tendonitis.  Blood is drawn from a patient and it is then spun to separate the various products.  What is then used is a concentration of platelets called PRP.

Function of PRP

The growth factors in PRP work by  helping to speed up the healing process. The injured area is injected with PRP. This can be done in an office setting. The skin is anesthesized and then the PRP is injected.

Conditions for Treatment

The most common injury that PRP is used for is tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis.  There is quite a number of studies that show the benefits of PRP for tennis elbow.  The benefits equal and surpass surgery.  PRP is also used in Achilles tendonitis, but the results are not as successful.  It has been used in knee arthritis, ligament injuries and patella tendonitis, but there is no significant benefit to date versus current traditional treatments.

PRP Injected Into the Elbow

Platelet Rich Plasma, PRP, injected into elbow.

Platelet Rich Plasma, PRP, injected into elbow.

Conclusion

PRP is one of the more common biologics that is gaining interest in the medical field .  Much of the publicity is over exaggerated in the media.  The biggest problem patients will have is that most insurance plans consider PRP experimental and will not pay for the injection.  If you want to find out if PRP may help your orthopedic condition it is best to speak with an orthopedic surgeon.