What do Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu have in common? They have both used their own blood to treat ligament and tendon injuries. The therapy is called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and involves the injection of concentrated platelets and plasma to the area of damage. Instead of injecting steroids, which can lead to tissue damage and tendon rupture, physicians are now injecting a patient’s own blood products to stimulate healing.
What is PRP? It is a concentrate of a patient’s own platelets. In our bodies, normal platelet counts range between 150,000/μl and 350,000/μl with an average of 200,000/μl. Animal and human studies have demonstrated that soft tissue healing enhancement only occurs when the concentration of platelets (PRP) is greater than 1,000,000/μl. This is a concentrate of 5x the amount normally present in our bodies.
How is it made? A small amount of a patient’s own blood is placed in a centrifuge which separates the red blood cells from the platelets. A teaspoon of the remaining substance is injected into the damaged tissue.
How does it work? Platelets contain several significant growth factors, which enhance tissue repair. The most important growth factors in PRP are platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), transforming growth factor beta (TGF-b), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and epithelial growth factor (EGF).
What are the advantages? It is a non-surgical therapy utilizing a patient’s own cells, and therefore is not associated with allergic reaction or transmission of disease. At the Centeno-Schultz Clinic we use PRP for repair of ligament, tendon and muscular injury.