| By Dr. Juan Gargiulo

Platelet Rich Plasma, or “PRP,” is one of a growing number of therapies which enhances the body’s ability to heal itself. During a PRP procedure, a certified physician extracts one to two ounces of blood from the vein, and uses a centrifuge to separate out the platelets. Platelets are the part of the blood that secretes growth factors to promote clotting and healing. A doctor can then re-inject the patient’s own plasma back in at the site of an injury in order to spur the repair of injured tissue. Relief is natural, and expected, within several weeks of the procedure.

PRP has been used in the field of dentistry for over 40 years and has only recently caught on to help treat orthopedic injuries. It can be used in addition to surgery, but in a lot of cases, studies find that it is eliminating the need for it entirely. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons presented findings in March of 2010 that proved PRP was effective in treating tennis elbow, Achilles tendonitis and osteo-arthritis in the knee. Further research has shown its effectiveness in treating plantar fasciitis, and other muscle injuries. Heart surgeons are also using PRP to strengthen tissues in bypass operations and dermatologists are using it as an alternative to facial fillers. Additionally, further research is being conducted to find out what types of injuries PRP is best suited for.

The great thing about PRP is the body’s usage of its own tissue, which people will not have an adverse reaction to. Furthermore, PRP has not been banned by U.S. professional sports organizations since no foreign substances are being injected into the body. Just last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that legendary golfer Tiger Woods used PRP for his knee before four majors. Even more extraordinary, Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu from the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers both used the procedure for sports-related injuries before going on to win the Super Bowl title in 2009. The only reported downside to PRP so far has been slight pain, since the procedure involves injecting fluid into tissues that are normally lacking it. For this, pain medication is usually given 12-48 hours after treatment.