What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma and Its Medical Implications

When PRP is injected into the injured site, the patient experiences a healing effect after a few weeks.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) involves taking a small amount of the patient’s own blood and spinning it in a centrifuge in order to separate the plasma from other components of blood.

The method in which this is done also concentrates the platelets to the bottom of the plasma. This PRP is then injected into the patient as a therapy usually for orthopedic indications and dentistry.

Blood consists of liquid and cells – the liquid part is known as plasma which is 55% of whole blood. The remainder is the cells which include red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Platelets play a role in clotting, especially useful on injuries to prevent further bleeding. In addition, platelets contain hundreds of proteins known as growth factors that play a vital role in injury healing.

Platelet-rich plasma is basically plasma consisting of more platelets than the normal number amount contained in the blood. PRP has a higher concentration of growth factors, usually more than 5 times the normal blood concentration. According to various laboratory studies, higher concentrations of growth factors can catalyze the healing process of an injured site in the body. The PRP is injected into the site of injury in order to induce a strong inflammatory response. This strong inflammatory response is then followed by a stronger anti-inflammatory and healing response. This is why PRP is very commonly used in problems of the joints. In example, Achilles tendonitis is a condition usually found in runners and tennis players.  When PRP is injected into the injured site, the patient experiences a healing effect after a few weeks. In the case where the heel cord of an athlete has been torn completely, this may need surgery to restore the tendon. To facilitate healing, PRP may be used after the surgery.

PRP is a simple and effective way to help heal and repair tissues in some injuries. Though some of the treatments have not been medically approved, thousands of patients have benefited from the easily available PRP therapies. In the recent years many sports figures such as Alex Rodriguez, Kobe Bryant and Rafael Nadal have benefited from PRP. This has allowed them to continue to compete at the professional level.

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