What is PRP
A: PRP has been in the news lately. Articles in many national newspapers including the NY times have discussed this procedure and its outcome in professional athlete’s (Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Rafael Nadal) and many other professional and nonprofessional athletes has benefited from PRP injections.
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is derived from the patient’s own blood and is placed in a centrifuge to obtain a concentrated fluid, rich in platelets and growth factors. It is then injected into the target (a tendon, ligament, joint) to stimulate growth and repair. Growth factors are bioactive proteins that can initiate and control the healing process. Blood and bone marrow contain these factors in abundance in the plasma and especially in specialized cells called platelets. A small amount of the patient’s own Growth factors released into an injured tendon, ligament or joint can initiate the healing process by stimulating nearby stem cells to turn on and begin the repair process.
A: PRP promotes a controlled inflammatory reaction. It brings to the location of injury inflammatory mediators and growth factors to promote a healing process that results in repair and regeneration of the injured tissue.
Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory medication that suppresses the inflammatory reaction thus alleviating pain. However it does not result in repair of the damage. Repeated Cortisone injections may actually promote weakening of the already damaged structures. In fact Cortisone injection into the Achilles tendon for Achilles tendinitis is not recommended due to possible tendon rupture.