PRP( Platelet-rich plasma therapy ) or autologous conditioned plasma (ACP) therapy has been used in surgeries to promote cell regeneration since 1987. There is much evidence that shows it is a viable treatment for tendinosis. The therapeutic injections contain plasma with a higher concentration of platelets than is found in the blood. It takes advantage of the blood’s natural healing properties to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles, or even bone.
Plasma refers to the liquid component of blood; it is the medium for red and white blood cells and other material traveling in the bloodstream. Plasma is mostly water but also includes proteins, nutrients, glucose, and antibodies, among other components.
Platelets, like red and white blood cells, are a normal component of blood. Platelets secrete substances called growth factors and other proteins that regulate cell division, stimulate tissue regeneration, and promote healing. Platelets also help the blood to clot; a person with defective platelets or too few platelets will bleed excessively from a cut.
PRP is directly injected into the affected joint. The goal is to:
-Reduce pain and inflammation
-Improve joint function
-Possibly slow, halt, or even repair damage to the cartilage
There are several reasons why osteoarthritis patients might consider platelet-rich plasma injections:
-Platelet-rich plasma is autologous, meaning it comes from the patient’s body, so it is natural, and the injections carry few risks.
-Other treatments for mild to moderate osteoarthritis can be unreliable or vary from person to person, and some have side effects or drawbacks:
-Physical therapy and/or weight loss can often improve but not always eliminate symptoms.
-Cortisone injections are proven to reduce osteoarthritis pain, but repeated injections can weaken ligaments and tendons over time, and may have a detrimental effect on healthy cartilage.
-Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen can reduce pain, but long-term use can aggravate stomach problems, blood pressure, and heart problems.
-Minor surgeries to treat osteoarthritis, such as arthroscopic debridement, have mixed results and may be no better than placebo.
-Joint replacement surgeries are major surgeries that require long-term rehabilitation and should be reserved for more debilitating cases of arthritis.
-Patients should keep in mind that PRP is not a cure-all, and it may be best used in combination with nonsurgical treatments and lifestyle changes, such as physical therapy, weight loss, bracing, and NSAIDs.