Early in 2009 a New York Times reporter was referred to our very own Dr. Ronald Adler by Dr. Joseph Feinberg, Associate Attending Physiatrist, Hospital for Special Surgery, to receive a new treatment which is gaining a lot of attention in the press recently: PRP. PRP injections were talked about quite a bit in the news throughout 2009, mainly for its healing properties in injured tendons.
Platelet activation plays a key role in the process of wound and soft tissue healing. PRP, stands for Platelet Rich Plasma and is made from a portion of the patient's own blood. The activated platelets are injected into the abnormal tissue, releasing growth factors that recruit and increase the proliferation of reparative cells. Ultrasound imaging is used to guide the injection and ensure that the PRP is being directed precisely into the affected area. It is prepared from a few tubes of the patient's own blood collected under a strict aseptic technique. After being centrifuged, the plasma has a platelet concentration above baseline. It is believed that the platelets promote healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints, and as such, PRP can be applied to various musculoskeletal problems.
It was used as early as the 1990s in maxillofacial and plastic surgery. Several recent clinical studies have suggested improved function and decreased pain from various conditions, including - but not limited to - elbow, wrist, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle tendonosis following PRP injections. Early work is also showing promise for osteoarthritis.
The side effects are very limited as patients are utilizing their own blood, to which there should be no negative reaction.
New applications to treat musculoskeletal conditions in orthopedics, especially when derived from other areas of medicine, is exciting. It is also great to see successful results and happy patients as they leave our hospital feeling better.