Fact or Myth: Can Platelet-Rich Plasma injections Work for You?

This is FACT. 

Doctor giving an injection to his patient in medical office

At least according to very preliminary research. Platelet-rich plasma injections (PRP) help treat acute and chronic soft tissue injuries. Doctors withdraw blood from a patient’s arm, and then unyoke the platelets through a centrifuge process. They then inject the platelets back into the injured tissue with the hope that it will help encourage the body’s healing processes to kick in.

Platelets are cells that clot blood, and they are made up of over 300 growth factors, which make them a potential healing tool. These growth factors may help foster healing by promoting the rejuvenation of injured tissue. Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant have tried platelet-rich plasma injections with success, but can it work on a non-athlete? Let’s see what a small-scale pilot study has to say.

Less Pain and Positive Structural Change! 

Researchers at the University of Alberta Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic gave PRP to patients between 35 and 60 years old with rotator cuff tendinopathy due to normal aging. A comparison of MRIs before and after treatment showed structural change and a reduction in the size of tears. Patients also demonstrated improvements in pain and mobility.

“Based on MRI findings before and after the injections, we saw improvements in the tissue six months later in five of seven patients undergoing PRP and an appropriate rehabilitation program. The healing in the tissue appeared to correspond with the reported improvement of the pain and also with the clinical assessment of function,” explains Doug Gross, interim chair of physical therapy at the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and corresponding author of the study.

More evidence needs to be conducted, but this study marks the first time researchers have determined structural changes in tissue healing with improvements in pain and function using PRP therapy. The study was published in PLOS ONE.