Platelet rich plasma, or PRP, has been an evolving new therapy in the field of Regenerative Medicine for well over a decade now. It originated with studies done at Harvard University using a method to enhance growth factor production from blood samples by exposing them to scored glass beads in a test tube after being incubated over a period of 12-24 hours. The cellular growth factors secreted are extracted and then injected into areas of the body needing repair. I first observed this procedure when Germany where several years previously. I was amazed at the rapid healing of musculoskeletal injuries and chronic pain issues that patients experienced. At the time the therapy was not approved by the FDA in the United States except in the field of Veterinary Medicine. Eventually PRP extraction methods were approved by the FDA in the United States. The procedure uses a blood sample from the patient which then has growth factors from platelets extracted by a special centrifuge. The growth factors act as a type of cellular “fertilizer” and support the growth and repair of damaged cells and connective tissue. The growth factors go by such names as Interleukin 1 receptor antagonist, thymosin beta 4 (TB4), phospholipase A2, Platelet Activation Factor, serotonin, calcium, and Thromboxane A2. Also present in the purified growth factor array is Epidermal Growth Factor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, keratinocyte growth factor, connective tissue growth factor CTGF, granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor, GM-CSF, insulin growth factor (IGF1), vascular endothelial growth factor VEGF, platelet derived growth factor and PDGF. All of these peptides are intermediaries that support the cell growth, repair, rejuvenation, and overall function. Thusly, they optimally support the healing of many forms of damaged ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue.
PRP has become very commonplace among professional athletes. Well-known celebrities such as Steph Curry and Tiger Woods have used PRP to recover from injuries.
In my experience, oftentimes a single injection can be significantly helpful in restoring overall function and cell integrity. Chronic pain can often be improved with one injection. Most often improvement may require 2-4 injections over a period of weeks or months. Often a question is how does PRP compare to stem cell therapy. By contrast Stem Cell therapies involve using an autologous extract of adipose (fat) tissue, which are rich in stem cells, and injecting that into the area of the body needing repair. The difference is that the stem cells can then replace damaged cells. It is thought by many researchers that the PRP can enhance stem cell migration to a damaged area.