Platelet rich plasma, commonly referred to as “PRP’, is a non-operative, permanent solution for conditions such as spinal conditions, arthritis, and orthopaedic ligament/tendon sprains and tears. Utilizing the body’s natural healing process, PRP therapy is a concentration of the patient’s own plasma that is injected into the damaged ligaments, tendons, and joints to promote tissue repair and accelerate healing. Plasma is rich in growth and healing factors which means, on average, an injured individual can get back to a pain-free life in four to six weeks.
Creation of PRP is simple, painless, and conveniently done at an office visit. The entire process of drawing blood to solution preparation only takes approximately 25-30 minutes. A small amount of blood is drawn from the patient, just like a routine blood test.
Once the blood is drawn it is then placed into a centrifuge. The centrifuge is a machine that spins the blood at high speeds in order to separate the blood into red blood cells and concentrated platelets.
Once the blood is separated the red blood cells are discarded, and we are left with concentrated platelet rich plasma (PRP) which is ready to be used in the treatment process.
The injection process does not take more than an hour, which includes the creation of the PRP as explained above. The platelet-rich portion is collected and injected back into the injured tendon, ligament, muscle, joint, or disc that has been determined to be a source of pain and is not-healing appropriately.
When structures around the spine are being injected, x-ray (i.e. fluoroscopy) guidance is used to assure safe and proper placement of PRP at the affected site. In the extremities, ultrasound-guidance is commonly used to inject PRP into the appropriate tendon, ligament or joint that is being targeted.
Injections are performed under image guidance to assure precise placement of PRP. The number of injections varies based on each patient’s individualized condition but typically range anywhere from two to six injections done over time. Patients typically experience significant reduction in pain after the first or second injection.
Generally speaking PRP injections are not painful; however, the discomfort level depends on the part of the body being treated. Injections into the joint are of minimal discomfort. There is sometimes a small amount of pain after the procedure; however, this does not last more than a few days and can be minimized with over the counter Tylenol. It is critical to avoid anti-inflammatory medications such as Aleve, Motrin, Celebrex, Naprosyn, and Mobic. These drugs may impede the healing process.
Dr. Thomas Schuler
Founder of Virginia Spine Institute
Chief Executive Officer