Athletes like Stephen Curry, Tiger Woods, tennis star Rafael Nadal, and several others — have received PRP for various problems, such as chronic tendon injuries, ligament injuries, etc.. These types of conditions have typically been treated with medications, physical therapy, or even surgery. Some athletes have credited PRP with their being able to return more quickly to competition.

What Is Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP)?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a cutting-edge procedure that uses components of the body's own blood cells to stimulate the natural healing process in certain orthopedic conditions. PRP therapy provides effective pain relief and faster healing than surgery.

Although blood is mainly a liquid (called plasma), it also contains small solid components (red cells, white cells, and platelets.) The platelets are best known for their importance in clotting blood. However, platelets also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in the healing of injuries.

  • PRP is plasma with many more platelets than what is typically found in blood. The concentration of platelets — and, thereby, the concentration of growth factors — can be 5 to 10 times greater (or richer) than usual.
  • To develop a PRP preparation, blood must first be drawn from a patient. The platelets are separated from other blood cells and their concentration is increased during a process called centrifugation. Then the increased concentration of platelets is then isolated and injected.

We discuss how PRP is obtained and what patients can expect during and after an injection.

How Does PRP Work?

Although it is not exactly clear how PRP works, laboratory studies have shown that the increased concentration of growth factors in PRP can potentially speed up the healing process.

How can PRP be used?

Current ways to utilize the healing effects of PRP include administration for:

  • Acute or chronic muscle or tendon injuries (i.e. tennis elbow)
  • Acute or chronic ligament injuries (i.e. MCL injury of the knee)
  • Joint arthritis
  • Fractures
  • Bursitis

Here are some recent publications on PRP injection therapy: