Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections for Orthopedics

What Are Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) contains two primary components: plasma, the fluid part of blood, and platelets, vital blood cells integral to the body's healing processes. Platelets are well-known for their role in blood clotting, but they also release growth factors that initiate the repair and regeneration of tissues at the site of injury.

Essentially, PRP is blood with a higher-than-usual concentration of platelets. To produce PRP, medical professionals extract a sample of the patient's blood and process it in a centrifuge. This machine spins the sample vigorously to isolate the platelets from other blood elements, resulting in a concentrated mixture within the plasma.

This enriched plasma is injected into the injured area, enhancing the body's natural healing processes. This therapy amplifies biological growth factors in blood cells to heal damaged tissue.

To learn more about whether a platelet-rich plasma injection might be right for you, request an appointment to talk to an RWJBarnabas Health orthopedic specialist.

Uses of Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections

Platelet-rich plasma injections offer versatile treatments for a spectrum of conditions, from enhancing recovery in musculoskeletal injuries, including soft tissue injuries like rotator cuff and Achilles tendon tears.

Beneficial for tendonitis and chronic tendinosis, including tennis elbow and golfer's elbow, PRP treatments are also increasingly used to promote ligament and muscle repair, as seen with calf muscle injuries.

The results of PRP treatment are most noticeable after several weeks for joint injections and are not permanent; patients may require additional injections at the direction of their doctor. PRP is suitable for standalone use or in combination with other medical procedures, including the following:

  • Musculoskeletal injuries. PRP injections treat tendon, ligament, muscle and joint injuries as well as other soft tissue injuries, tendonitis and chronic tendinosis conditions like tennis elbow.
  • Post-surgical healing. The treatment accelerates recovery after surgeries involving muscles, tendons and ligaments.
  • Osteoarthritis. PRP injections may help treat osteoarthritis pain and stiffness by modulating the joint environment and reducing inflammation.

What to Expect Before the Procedure

When undergoing platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, here's what you can typically expect in preparation:

  • Consultation. You'll discuss your medical history, current medications, and the goals of the treatment with your doctor.
  • Blood draw. A small amount of your blood will be taken — usually from the arm — like a routine blood test.

What to Expect When Getting a Platelet-Rich Plasma Injection

Getting a platelet-rich plasma injection is not complicated. Here’s what to expect:

  • Preparation of PRP. The drawn blood is placed in a centrifuge to separate the platelets and plasma from other blood components.
  • Anesthesia. The injection site may be numbed with a local anesthetic to reduce discomfort.
  • Injection. The concentrated platelets are then injected into the affected area, which may be guided by ultrasound.

After the Procedure

Patients are advised to take it easy for a bit after a platelet-rich plasma injection. Recovery can vary.

  • Ice for swelling. You might experience some tenderness and swelling at the injection site. Ice is typically recommended.
  • Rest. You may be advised to avoid strenuous activities for a short period after the injection.
  • Follow-up. Your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment to assess the healing process and determine if additional treatments are necessary.

Potential Side Effects and Outcomes

PRP is minimally invasive, harnessing the body’s natural healing mechanisms. It carries a low risk of allergic reactions, with a high potential for offering relief from pain and injury. However, as with any injection, there's a remote risk of infection. Other less common risks include bleeding, tissue damage and nerve injuries.

  • Pain and swelling. Some patients experience mild pain and swelling after PRP injections, but this usually subsides within a few days.
  • Healing. PRP injections are designed to promote healing and tissue regeneration, though it may take several weeks to notice improvements.
  • Multiple treatments. Depending on the injury and individual response, additional PRP injections may be needed.

Expert Care for Specialized Orthopedics Treatments

Our state-of-the-art facilities are equipped with the latest technology, reflecting our commitment to providing noninvasive and surgical treatment options. Trust RWJBarnabas Health for expert plasma-rich platelet injection treatment. Consult with one of our orthopedic specialists today.

Request an Appointment

Patient Stories

  • “The procedure is a game changer, the result is a life changer”

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  • “It was a good experience... I felt comfortable from the moment I got to the hospital through the entire stay.”

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