Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy involves taking the patient’s blood and concentrating the levels of platelets and growth factors to promote healing in injured tissue. PRP can treat recent injury, inflammation and long-term degenerative disease. The treatment relies on the fact that normal blood contains cells called platelets that are rich in growth factors. These cells can be concentrated as PRP and then injected into the affected area to induce a healing response that helps to relieve pain.
Because PRP treatment use a person’s blood and are not considered to be “drugs,” the treatments are not subject to FDA approval before they can be used by practitioners. It’s important to understand that many procedures and treatments that are widely used in clinical settings are not approved by the FDA but are allowed because they are listed as being “cleared” for use. This is the situation with both PRP therapies and the devices, centrifuges, that are used to prepare PRP samples.
The procedure involves taking a sample of the patient’s own blood and spinning it in a centrifuge. This concentrates the platelets and growth factors before injecting them into the injured body part to promote the body’s own healing response.
Pain relief after receiving PRP therapy usually occurs in four to six weeks. In advanced or complex cases, this may take up to four to six months.
Because PRP involves injecting a substance into the skin, there are potential side effects. PRP is autologous, which means it contains substances that come directly from your own body. This reduces the risks for an allergic reaction that can occur from injecting other medications, such as cortisone or hyaluronic acid. However, there are risks from the injection itself, including:
You should discuss these potential risks with your doctor, as well as the steps your doctor will take to minimize these risks.