There are a number of biologic materials used in the treatment of orthopaedic conditions. Plasma Rich Protein (PRP) injections are one of the most established.
PRP is obtained from your own blood through a process of centrifugation, separating it into it's component parts. The part containing the concentrated platelets is then drawn up and injected into the problem area.
The PRP element of blood is rich in growth factors and mediators involved in tissue repair and regeneration. These include: TGF-B1, PDGF, BFGF, VEGF, EGF, and IGF-1.
The various growth factors and mediators have been shown to have a number of positive effects on tendon tissue. These include, promoting a new blood supply which can increase the nutrients from the blood needed for cellular regeneration in injured tissue, and improving the local metabolic activity with a resultant enhancement of the collagen network.
The chemical mediators produced by platelets have also been shown to increase the recruitment of cells needed in injury and repair, and enhance the removal of debris from damaged tissue.
While PRP is not a 'magic' answer to arthritis, numerous studies have shown a positive effect when used in patients suffering from arthritis.
The mediators which are present in PRP have been shown to have a positive effect on cartilage through a number of different pathways. These include the promotion of cartilage cell proliferation, an increase in the proteoglycan content of the cartilage tissue, and a number of anti-inflammatory effects.
There is always new research being published, and while some studies show a very positive effect of PRP, not all studies do so. However, since PRP is derived from your own blood, it does not carry some of the potential adverse effects that other injections such as steroid can have.
Before going ahead with PRP treatment, it is important that you have a full discussion with your surgeon as PRP may not be the best treatment for you. You can also talk to friends and family, and do your own research online.
A sample of blood is taken from your arm, just like a standard blood test.
The blood sample is spun in a centrifuge. This separates out the component parts.
The component of the blood containing the concentrated platelets is drawn out into another syringe, leaving behind the rest of the blood.
The PRP is then injected into the specific area affected. This could be a joint if it is for joint degeneration, or in / around a tendon or muscle in the case of soft tissue injury or damage.