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PRP is plasma with many more platelets than what is typically found in blood. Although a liquid, blood (plasma) contains solids called red cells, white cells, and platelets. Best known for clotting, platelets also contain proteins called growth factors which are very important to the healing of injuries. In a PRP injection, the concentration of platelets and growth factors is 5-10 times greater than in normal blood.
How PRP works
When we injure ourselves, blood rushes to the damaged tissue and starts an inflammatory response to start the healing cycle. Inside and on the walls of platelets are hundreds of growth factors that tell the body what to do, including stem cells. When PRP comes in contact with the injured area it turns on the DNA in those cells to cause that tissue to repair itself and make new cells. It also attracts other stem cells to the region to attach to the injured tissue to create new tissue.
What injuries are treated with PRP Injections?
How is the PRP injection made?
A small amount of your blood is drawn, which is run through a centrifuge. The centrifuge separates the platelets from the rest of the blood and increases the concentration of the platelets. The increased and concentrated platelets are combined with the remaining blood to create the PRP injection.
How many PRP injections will I need?
Depending on how severe your injury is, it may take 3-7 treatments given 4-6 weeks apart to eliminate your pain and heal your injury.
After the PRP Injection
Since the PRP causes a healing inflammatory response there is usually some mild pain and swelling later that day which can be controlled with rest, ice, and if necessary, over the counter pain medication like tylenol (acetaminophen). Anti-inflammatories and steroids should not be used, as an inflammation response is necessary for the PRP to work.
The following day, light exercise is encouraged to prevent stiffness, with discomfort usually gone in 3-5 days. Pain from the original injury may start to diminish in 1-2 weeks, but frequently it takes 3-4 treatments to know if it will work for you.
Returning to your level of pre-injury activity depends on the extent of the injury and tissue damaged.