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Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)

PRP Overview

Platelet rich plasma, otherwise known as PRP, has received a lot of attention for helping treat injured tissues and ligaments within the shoulder, knee and elbow joints, as well as easing the symptoms of arthritis. Laboratory studies have confirmed that an increased concentration of PRP’s growth factors can speed up a patient’s healing process. Dr. Waterman is actively involved in treating certain patients with PRP therapy following an injury, as well as documenting a patient’s outcome to further enhance a PRP procedure.

What is PRP Therapy?

PRP therapy is becoming more widely used and recognized as an effective treatment for injured tissues, injured ligaments and easing arthritis symptoms. Common conditions that can be effectively treated with PRP include tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, inflammation of the patellar tendon, rotator cuff injuries and arthritis of the shoulder, knee and elbow.

When the fibers of collagen are stretched or torn on a ligament or tendon, they begin to bleed, leading to an increased rate of healing from the blood flow. The blood carries growth factors and platelets that aid in healing by creating new collagen fibers. If the healing process does not work as the body intended, scar tissue will develop and healing will be slowed, altered or stopped.

How is PRP Therapy Performed?

Platelet rich plasma was developed as a potential solution to this issue. PRP contains very high concentrations of several growth factors that accelerate tendon and ligament healing, as well as easing arthritis symptoms. With research, it has been proven that platelets naturally move toward an injured area and growth factors are released by the platelets. In a PRP procedure, a patient’s blood is taken during a simple venous blood draw. The platelets are then spun down to separate them from other blood cells and their concentration is increased during a process called centrifugation. The increased concentration of platelets is then combined with the remaining blood to increase healing. The next step of the PRP procedure is to inject the platelet rich plasma directly into the injured area and between the collagen fibers. A local anesthetic is commonly mixed with the PRP to make PRP therapy more comfortable for the patient. The growth factors and platelets will activate once they reach the injured area.

Does PRP Work?

Platelet rich plasma and PRP therapy holds great promise in the sports medicine and orthopedic fields of medicine. Dr. Waterman is involved with numerous research studies on the effects of ligament healing, tendon healing and easing symptoms of arthritis using PRP. They are also documenting patients undergoing a PRP procedure for their outcomes and healing response. Even though the science behind PRP continues to evolve and the indications are constantly changing, the future of platelet rich plasma looks encouraging in healing sports injuries.

At a Glance

Dr. Brian Waterman, MD

  • Chief & Fellowship Director, Sports Medicine, Wake Forest
  • Team Physician, Wake Forest University, Chicago White Sox
  • Military affiliation/Decorated military officer and surgeon
  • Learn more

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