Platelet-rich plasma injection, or PRP injection, is a medical procedure known as orthobiologics. It utilises a concentrated form of your own plasma separated from your blood, to promote the healing of musculoskeletal injuries.
Our blood is made up of many factors such as red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen from our lungs to the rest of the body and white blood cells are responsible for fighting off infections and diseases. Platelets help to stop bleeding by forming clots and contain growth factors which promote healing, while plasma contains proteins, water, and enzymes, and acts as a medium to carry red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
The growth factors in PRP stimulate cellular activity, which then promotes tissue healing, reduces inflammation, and potentially improves function. PRP injections are commonly used in orthopaedics, sports medicine, and dermatology to treat conditions such as osteoarthritis and tendon injuries such as tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and shoulder tendonitis.
How does platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection work?
During the PRP procedure, a small amount of blood is drawn from you. The blood is then processed in a centrifuge to separate the blood into its different components. Once separated, the platelet-rich plasma is carefully removed and injected (while guided by an ultrasound) into the targeted area of your body, such as your joints, tendons, or muscles.
Platelet-rich plasma contains 3 times more platelets and growth factors than the rest of the blood. It encourages and accelerates healing, helps reduce inflammation, and may improve blood flow to the area, which facilitates the healing process.
Benefitsof platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection
Enhances tissue healing and regeneration
Promotes collagen production
Potential improvement in joint function
Alleviation of pain and discomfort
Non-allergenic and immune reaction-free (autologous transplantation)
Minimal risk of side effects or complications
May facilitate blood flow to the treated area
Can be used in various medical fields (orthopaedics, sports medicine, dermatology)
What conditions can platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection treat?
PRP injections can be used to treat the following conditions:
Arthritis: PRP injections, sometimes in combination with hyaluronic acid injections, are used to treat osteoarthritis of the knee and knee injuries.
Muscle injuries: such as hamstring strains and other types of acute muscle strains can be treated using PRP injections.
In addition to the conditions mentioned above, PRP injections can also be used to treat a plethora of issues ranging from general inflammation to aiding post-surgical recovery.
Many famous athletes — golfer Tiger Woods and tennis star Rafael Nadal among them — have received PRP for various problems, such as sprained knees and chronic tendon injuries. See article.
The Ministry of Health Singapore has instructed that PRP injections in Singapore can be used in the context of ligament and tendon injuries.
Dr Puah is the only Singaporean trained by Dr Laurent Lafosse at the Alps Surgery Institute, Annecy, France.
Dr. Laurent Lafosse is a pioneer of modern shoulder surgery and has had numerous scientific papers published in international peer reviewed journals. Dr. Puah is one of Dr. Laurent Lafosse's trained fellows.
When considering PRP injections, you can expect various potential outcomes, depending on your condition. After the procedure, you can expect the pain in the affected area to increase slightly as healing and regeneration accelerates. This will subside eventually and you will be able to observe improvements in the weeks following your procedure.
Post-procedure you can expect the following:
Improved tissue healing and regeneration
Reduction in inflammation
Potential improvement in joint function and mobility
Enhanced collagen production
Possible alleviation of symptoms related to chronic wounds or non-healing ulcers
Depending on your specific condition, you may experience gradual and progressive improvements over time. Results will vary from person to person, depending on the treatment area, severity of the issue, and your overall health. Your orthopaedist can give you a better idea of what to expect based on your individual needs and circumstances.
How many treatment sessions do I need?
The number of treatment sessions required for PRP injections varies depending on your specific condition and individual response. In some cases, a single PRP injection may be sufficient to achieve your desired results. However, for more complex or chronic conditions, multiple treatment sessions may be recommended.
Generally, a treatment plan may consist of 2 to 3 sessions spaced several weeks apart. The exact number of sessions needed will be determined by your orthopaedist based on your progress and response to the treatment.
Your orthopaedist will be able to provide you with a bespoke treatment plan, tailored to your needs and requirements.
Dr Puah KL is our Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Artisan Sports & Orthopaedic Surgery. He used to serve the sports service of Singapore General Hospital - the highest volume trauma centre for orthopaedics in Singapore.