PRP (or platelet rich plasma) involves injecting a component of the patient's blood into an injured knee, tendon or other body part. The concept being that in platelets there are some things that can stimulate an anti-inflammatory action or improve pain.

Learn more about the type of PRP we use and how it can benefit patients

What is PRP?

PRP, platelet rich plasma involves injecting a component of the patient's blood into an injured knee or tendon or other body part. So it involves taking some of their own blood, spinning it down into a centrifuge. And we separate out the red cells, which we get rid of and it leaves us with the watery part of blood, which is called the plasma. And then the part of the plasma that has a high concentration of some cells called platelets, gets re-injected. And the concept there is that in platelets there are some growth factors and some things that can stimulate an anti inflammatory action or improve pain. And there's been a lot of interest over the last decade or so about the use of PRP to manage various musculoskeletal complaints.

Is all PRP the same?

All PRP is not the same. So if you look online and you read the scientific research, you'll find a variety of different protocols, different ways to prepare the PRP. And it can be very confusing even for doctors and those that are using the PRP. I think it's important to say that the evidence is relatively mixed. And in our clinic we use a simple protocol where there's only one injection and we see how the patient responds. Other protocols will involve three injections over a week or five injections. And I think that it adds to the morbidity and cost and it doesn't necessarily improve the efficacy.

What s the best indication for PRP?

There are a range of indications for PRP. So for example, there's interest in using PRP to manage tendinopathy for which the evidence is really quite mixed. I think the best evidence is for knee arthritis or isolated chondral injuries in the knee. I think it will be really important to stress that there's no guarantee that PRP is going to fix the patient's problem. But if they haven't responded well to rehabilitation time, it is one of the tools that we do have in our arsenal to try and improve pain. And as I said, we would typically suggest one injection and then follow them up over the next six weeks or so and see what improvements that the patient may or may not have in their pain. And that follows some of the evidence that we consider to be the most robust in the literature.

By Dr Mark Fulcher on