Injury Prevention: What is PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma)?

January 16, 2019 Long Island Tennis Magazine By: Gregory Lieberman, M.D.

A platelet is a small, disc-shaped cell fragment in a person’s blood. They are the most numerous cells that help prevent bleeding and are part of a person’s response to injury that aids in the healing process. PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma (blood spinning) is a relatively new technique for treating soft tissue injuries, particularly tendonitis or inflammation of tendons. Studies have indicated that it may improve tendon healing especially in chronic non-healing tendinopathies.

PRP is a treatment method whereby a patient’s blood is drawn and then spun with a centrifuge to concentrate the patient’s platelet and growth factors and inflammatory helper proteins (chemicals). The platelets are increased to 10 times what the body would normally produce. It is meant to speed up and jump start the body’s healing and repair process. Because the process uses the patient’s own blood it is safe and there is no risk of disease transmission.

Who is the right candidate for PRP?

PRP can be performed on any patient from the weekend warrior, the laborer or the professional athlete. I have personally used it on an up and coming ex-MMA fighter who is now a professional boxer and is currently undefeated with a record of 16-0. This technique has been used by professional athletes, such as golfer Tiger Woods, tennis star Rafael Nadal, baseball player Jose Reyes and football star Andre Johnson to name a few.

What conditions can be treated with PRP?

The two most common conditions treated are tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and Achilles tendonitis. It has also been used for patella tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. It is typically performed after other treatments, such as rest, ice, physical therapy, cortisone injections and anti-inflammatory medications have failed to improve the condition. An MRI should be performed first to evaluate the condition and diagnose the tendinopathy. Professional athletes have used PRP to treat acute injuries and tendonitis with the hope of having less down time and getting them back to playing sooner.

What is the recovery time?

The process of drawing the blood and spinning it down takes 25 minutes. The injection itself takes seconds. Patients may initially experience some discomfort at the injection area. I treat this successfully with a non-narcotic pill. The patient may not use ice on the area of the injection for two weeks and no anti-inflammatories for three or four weeks after the injection. It may take several weeks to see the benefit. I expect a return to full activities in six to eight weeks at the latest.

If you’re suffering from orthopedic pain contact the doctors at Orlin & Cohen, the leading Long Island orthopedic practice. Immediate appointments are available: Schedule yours now.

Related Link: GregoryLieberman, M.D. article on PRP