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Platelet rich plasma injections (PRP) : principles and applications

What is platelet injection ?

A platelet injection is a simple, natural and innovative method of treating numerous orthopedic conditions (tendonitis, muscle or joint injuries, osteoarthritis…).-

This technique involves injecting platelets (containing growth factors from the patient’s own blood) into the damaged, poorly vascularized areas to help stimulate healing.

Growth factors act on :

  • Neovascularization (formation of new blood vessels in the damaged area),
  • Collagen fiber regeneration,
  • Cell activation to promote tissue restructuring.

This triggers the natural processes of tissue healing and restructuring which helps decrease pain, and enables a return to normal activity and long-term patient remission.


Why do we talk of platelet concentrate, blood plasma or PRP ?

The separated product prepared for the injection is called different things, so you will hear the following terms :

  • Autologous platelet concentrate
  • Autologous blood plasma
  • PRP (platelet rich plasma)

They all refer to the same product the platelet injection consists of.


 

Platelet injection (PRP) : what does the procedure involve ?

The procedure is very simple and involves three steps:

  1. Sampling : as with a blood test, a small amount of blood is taken from the patient. It is then centrifuged to separate the platelets (which contain the growth factors) from the red blood cells. After centrifugation, the injection process can begin.

processus PRP

  1. Preparation for injection : the injection sites are identified by the health care professional generally using ultrasound or x-ray.

Before the injection, a mild anesthetic can be administered (skin injection or relaxing gas).

  1. Platelet injection : the platelet concentrate is injected and the injection site covered with a plaster.

Following the injection, which requires just 3 hours as an outpatient, the patient can walk home.

However, if the procedure is performed on the lower limbs and if both sides are treated, it is recommended to use crutches. 

What conditions can be treated with platelet injections ?

Tendon, ligament or muscle damage

  • Indications: tendonitis, sprain, muscle tear…
  • Method of treatment: platelet injection (PRP)
  • Expected results: regulation of the inflammation, rapid and natural healing, decrease in pain so the patient can return to normal activity and resume a sports activity

 Osteoarthritis and cartilage damage

  • Indications: early stage osteoarthritis, traumatic cartilage damage (caused by a fall, an accident or a sports injury)
  • Method of treatment: platelet injection (PRP) combined with hyaluronic acid
  • Expected results: regulation of inflammation, recovery of stability and painless movement (range of motion, repetition)

Meniscal damage

  • Indications: minor meniscal damage (tear, crack…)
  • Method of treatment: platelet injection (PRP) + hyaluronic acid
  • Expected results: natural healing for some very specific lesions, thus eliminating the need for a meniscectomy (ablation of the meniscus). However, this process is still under assessment.