Our immune system is a powerful force, with components like white blood cells and platelets patrolling our bodies, killing invaders, and repairing damaged tissue every day.
Injuries to the tendons of the shoulder may be good candidates for PRP injections. Learn More: PRP Therapy for Chronic Tendon Injuries
So it should come as no surprise that the powers of platelets can be harnessed to create an effective therapy for damaged tendons.
How do PRP injections work?
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are created from a patient’s own blood sample, so they’re safe and low risk. The extracted blood is put into a centrifuge to concentrate all of the platelets in the sample. Then the PRP injection is prepared from that and injected into the damaged tendon.
- Read more: Platelet-Rich Plasma Injection Procedure
Experts aren’t sure of the exact mechanism, but it’s believed that the platelets trigger the production of collagen in the tendon, which repairs and heals damage to the tendon. The platelets also may disrupt pain receptors, causing reduced feelings of pain.
PRP injections are not yet considered standard care, and they may not be covered by insurance, but several studies have shown good results from PRP therapy in offering pain relief for tendon injuries.
- Read more: Are PRP Injections Effective?
Who is a candidate for PRP injections?
PRP therapy is a great option for tendon injuries when other therapies either haven’t worked or are not an option.
PRP injections may be recommended for those who:
- Experience daily symptoms from the damaged tendon
- Have a sensitivity to non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or have not gotten adequate pain relief from NSAIDs
- Have tried physical therapy without significant improvement in pain or function
- Have tried other nonsurgical therapies without much relief
- Cannot have or want to postpone surgery
- See a complete list of indications and contraindications for PRP
PRP injections may not work for everyone, for several reasons:
- Variations in the concentration of platelets in a PRP sample
- The nature and extent of the tendon injury
- The patient’s general health and activity level
And even when PRP injections work to lessen pain, they often don’t eliminate it entirely.
The important point to remember is that—whether or not you decide to give PRP injections a try—they should be used in combination with other treatments like exercise, physical therapy, medications, and other therapies as part of a larger treatment plan.