Platelets are small cells in the blood that help form clots to stop bleeding.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a patient’s own concentrated platelets. PRP contains a large number growth factors. These growth factors stimulate healing.
When PRP is injected, it can aid the body’s natural healing of injuries. The goal is not only to relieve symptoms but to create actual healing. In some cases, PRP may reduce the need for medication and/or surgery.
It has been used to treat tendon, ligament, cartilage and bone injuries, as well as arthritis. Around the foot and ankle PRP is used for treatment of tendon and ligament injuries such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon and ankle ligament injuries.
PRP injections are not recommended for the treatment of infections or cancer.
A small amount of a patient’s blood is drawn and then spun at high speed. The platelets are concentrated. This liquid is then injected around or near the area of injury being treated. The PRP at this stage contains three to five times the concentration of growth factors compared to normal human blood.
A physician may recommend a single injection or a series of injections based on the injury being treated and a patient’s initial response to the therapy. Your doctor may use ultrasound or an X-ray as a guide to placing the injection.
You may experience mild pain and irritation of the area for several days following the injection. Some doctors may ask patients to limit motion or weight-bearing activity immediately following the injection. The use of a brace, boot or cast may be recommended during the early post-injection course.
Three to seven days after the injection, you may gradually return to normal physical activities. The return to full activity is determined based on response to the therapy and the recommendation of your surgeon.
As PRP is obtained from your own blood, the risk of reaction is low. As with any injection, there is a small risk of injury to any structures in the area as well as a very small risk of infection.
How many PRP injections can I have?
A treatment may require a series of injections, perhaps three to five. However, multiple injections are often not recommended if there is no improvement in symptoms following the first or second treatment.