Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is used to try to speed up the healing process both after injuries and for some chronic conditions, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic SurgeonsOff Site Icon (AAOS).
It is not completely clear yet how PRP works, according to the AAOS, but studies have shown that the increased concentration of growth factors in PRP are what can help speed up healing.
There are two ways PRP is used, according to the AAOS:
It can be carefully injected into an injured area. The pain in the area typically gets worse in the first couple weeks, then it gets better.
It can be used to speed the healing process after surgery. Rather than be injected, the PRP is prepared in a way that it can be stitched into the torn tissue.
Previous topical growth factor studies have shown that recombinant human platelet-derived growth factor-BB isomer (rhPDGF-BB) is an efficacious treatment of chronic diabetic foot ulceration. A newer treatment, autologous platelet-rich plasma (PRP), represents a greater similarity to the natural healing process as a composite of multiple growth factors, is safe due to its autologous nature, and is produced as needed from patient blood. A review of the literature shows few studies performed with scientific rigor, although the safety of PRP appears to be validated. As the use of PRP increases, additional studies may establish PRP as an efficacious treatment modality and guide future treatment of chronic diabetic foot ulceration.
For the treatment, doctors take a small vial of a patient’s blood, about 30 milliliters, and spin it in a centrifuge to separate the platelet-rich plasma from the other components. Then they inject the concentrated platelets at the site of the patient’s injury. In theory, the growth factors that platelets secrete (not including human growth hormone) spur tissue recovery.