Using the body's own elements of natural regeneration certainly has an advantage in healing an injury, which is exactly the mechanism used when performing platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. This procedure has created quite some attention in recent years as rumors have emerged of professional athletes like Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods using it to heal quickly and get back in the game. At American Spine & American Spine, it is used to treat sprains, strains, tendon/muscle/ ligament injuries, and now many other injuries of the body. The natural response of the body to an injury is to incite an inflammatory response to attract certain healing elements to the site of injury through the blood vessel system. The platelets in our blood are one of the integral elements used in this healing process.
Platelets contain growth factors such as platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and cytokines which improve cell reproduction and extracellular matrix production which leads to soft tissue and bone regeneration as well as new blood vessel formation. Besides PDGF, platelets also contain fibroblast growth factor, transforming growth factor beta, insulin-like growth factor 1 & 2, vascular endothelial growth factor, and epidermal growth factor. All of these elements work very well in areas with a poor blood supply that may not heal well from the body's natural healing process.
By using the person's own blood, there are very few risks or side effects. The blood is withdrawn from an arm and is spun down in a two-step centrifugation process to separate out the platelets while mixing them with citrate and dextrose using a sterile technique. This provides a super saturated, very high concentration of pure platelets. These platelets, which contain all of the healing factors, are then injected directly into the site of injury.
PRP therapy may be used to manage numerous injuries including muscle injuries (hamstring sprains, biceps and triceps injuries, calf and quadriceps injuries), ligament injuries (ACL, MCL, LCL sprains and tears of the knees), tendon injuries (Achilles tendonitis, rotator cuff injuries, tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis), patellar and quadriceps tendonitis), degenerative conditions such as arthritis (osteoarthritis), degenerative disc disease, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, neck and back pain, nerve injury, plastic surgery, burns, split-thickness skin graft donor sites, and stress fractures. It may also be used after surgical procedures to assist in the healing process in areas of poor blood supply.
One of the main benefits of PRP is that the patient's own blood is used, making this procedure safe, cost effective, and without side effects. The natural healing process may take 3-6 weeks after the injection and the procedure may need to be repeated 1-2 more times in a 6 month period to encourage full healing and regeneration.