What is Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy?
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is derived from your own body’s blood. Platelets are not only responsible for blood clotting but are the portion of blood that contain a copious amount of growth factors necessary for repair of our body’s damaged tissue (ligament and tendon injuries). PRP therapy has gained notoriety due its use in treating sports injuries in professional athletes. This includes MLB and NFL players being successfully treated with PRP for a variety of conditions of the foot and ankle which include achilles pain, heel pain and chronic tendon injuries. One of the many advantages of PRP is that it has essentially no side effects. There is no chance for rejection of the blood since it is coming from your own body.
How does PRP Work?
Traditionally physicians have been limited to cortisone injections to treat patients with pain and inflammation. Cortisone is a synthetic anti-inflammatory medication which does not provide healing of tissue but simply decreased inflammation to an injured part of the body. The negative side effects of cortisone have been widely documented in clinical studies including tissue damage and drug reactions. Unlike cortisone, PRP is natural and comes from your own body.
Clinical studies have shown that PRP has the potential to heal damaged tissue by using your own body’s growth factors contained within platelets. By injecting PRP into the injured area, a “good inflammation” is created that can kick-start the healing process.
How is PRP performed?
Just like during a routine blood test, a small amount of blood is drawn from your arm and then placed in a centrifuge to separate the blood products. The plasma portion of blood, which contains platelets, is then separated under sterile technique and placed in a syringe for injection into the injured part of the body. The injection is performed in a sterile environment and can be done under local anesthesia to minimize pain. The injection can also be performed under ultrasound to help our physicians guide the PRP injection into the injured area.
What are the advantages of PRP?
PRP is simply a localized injection of your own blood product into an injured area of the body. Patients are usually advised to refrain from taking anti-inflammatory medications for 3 weeks following the treatment in order to allow the natural “good inflammation” to occur. Patients are also allowed to continue limited physical activity immediately following the treatment.
PRP may be a good option for patients who have been dealing with chronic pain associated with achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and other common conditions of the foot and ankle. The physicians at Complete Foot and Ankle are also utilizing PRP during surgical procedures such as fracture and tendon repair in order to expedite the healing process.