Platelet-Rich Plasma, or PRP is the process within which plasma is extracted from the blood and then re-injected into the body – typically in areas in which an injury or aging has occurred.

We have all observed what happens when we cut our skin and begin to bleed – a clot quickly forms and then a scab – but platelets are responsible for so much more. When a trauma has occurred in the body, platelets begin releasing chemical messengers that initiate and organize proteins, intent on healing the area. These signals tell the body that an injury has occurred and that help needs to be sent.

In areas with poor blood flow, such as in joints, there are fewer platelets present and therefore fewer chemical signals being sent when an issue arises. As we age, the signals become weaker still.

Using ultrasound guided PRP injections, we reintroduce a high concentration of your platelets back into your body at the precise site of an injury or where degradation is occurring. Once the platelets arrive, alarm bells begin to sound and help is on it’s way.

Dr. Lebeck discussing with a patient their PRP knee injections. Photo by Mark Levy

What to expect during PRP

The incredible thing about PRP, is that we use your body’s own healing abilities, to heal itself – with a little jumpstart. We begin by drawing the required amount of blood, typically 15 – 30ml and spinning it in a specially designed centrifuge – separating the blood into three separate parts.

The Platelet-Rich Plasma is separated out from the blood and is injected into the site, which has been thoroughly numbed with a local anesthetic. Instead of injecting blindly into the site, we use an ultrasound in order to view precisely where the platelets should be injected.

Following the procedure, you will notice an inflammation response at the injection site – this not only normal, but signifies a healthy response; it means the chemical signals are going out and the intended response is occurring. Immediately after PRP injections, we will apply ice and compression therapy to help with the inflammation, often times we will also apply compression tape to assist with blood flow.

Ultrasound-guided platelet-rich plasma injection of the knee

Recovering from PRP Injections

Despite the seemingly invasive nature of the procedure, most of our patients are surprised by how quick and relatively painless the procedure is – typically lasting less than 60 minutes from check-in to check-out. Most of our patients do not require analgesic (pain relief) medication, but for those that do – we only recommend mild analgesics such as Tylenol.

24 HOURS LATER – Patients will begin to notice that most of the discomfort and swelling has dissipated. However, it is important that patients limit their activity – depending on the injection site, you may have some restrictions on your physical activity, specifically your range of motion.

2 WEEKS LATER – Patients will have their first follow-up appointment where our team will access your progress. Normally by this time, patients have begun to notice improvement in both their mobility and a decrease in their pain – most patients begin to return to their normal level of activity.

4 WEEKS LATER – At their second follow up, the patient’s progress is once again determined, using both ultrasound imaging and a physical exam. For the vast majority of our patients, the PRP treatments have been so successful at decreasing their pain and increasing their mobility, that we will not need to see them again until their 6 month follow up. For other patients, we may recommend a second round of injections in order to achieve the best results.

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