see also Injections
Platelet activation plays a key role in the process of wound and soft tissue healing. The use of platelet rich plasma (PRP), a portion of the patient’s own blood having a platelet concentration above baseline, to promote healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints, can be applied to various musculoskeletal problems.
Ultrasound and photograph of a PRP injection into a patient's tendon tear.
It was used as early as the 1990s in maxillo-facial and plastic surgery. PRP injections are prepared from one to a few tubes of the patient’s own blood with strict aseptic technique. After being centrifuged, the activated platelets are injected into the abnormal tissue, releasing growth factors that recruit and increase the proliferation of reparative cells. Ultrasound imaging may or may not be used to guide the injection.
Several clinical studies have demonstrated that PRP injections have improved function and decreased pain to various maladies, including - but not limited to - elbow, wrist, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle tendonosis. Early work is also showing promise for osteoarthritis.
The side effects of PRP injections are very limited as the patient is utilizing their own blood, which they should have no reaction to. Some relative rest is needed immediately following the procedure, then usually followed by a progressive stretching and strengthening program.