Blood is made up of plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma. PRP therapy is, simply put, the injection of a concentrated source of platelets into an area of injury. It’s also an innovative treatment that has shown promise as an effective line of therapy for osteoarthritis and improved joint health.
PRP first gained popularity in the early 2000s when it was used on athletes trying to recover from various injuries. One of the first documented cases was for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Bono’s torn Achilles tendon.
As a sports medicine practitioner, I’ve had positive outcomes with various uses of PRP, but it’s important to understand the difference between successful “case reports,” such as those mentioned, and the best evidence-based practice that’s built upon unbiased, ideally doubleblinded, randomized control trials.
Osteoarthritis, however, has shown benefit, with the knee having been the most studied and showing the strongest evidence for PRP use. Exercise, strength and weight loss are still the pillars of osteoarthritis treatment, but PRP is now considered among the adjunctive next steps of therapy – exciting news for anyone wanting to maximize conservative therapies for improved joint health!
Factors that can influence the outcome and success of PRP include the area of injury, the tissue type involved, the chronicity or acute nature of an injury, other treatment strategies already employed, performance demands, recovery goals, post-injection rehab, an individual’s overall health and medications.
Talking with a healthcare provider who is knowledgeable in PRP and up-to-date on the literature is of utmost importance to ensure the treatment plan is based on the best evidence available globally.
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