Indian Journal of Pain

: 2015  |  Volume : 29  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 121--123

Mystery of platelet rich plasma injection in painful conditions

Dipasri Bhattacharya 
 Department of Anaesthesiology, Critical Care and Pain, RG Kar Medical College, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Dipasri Bhattacharya
Department of Anaesthesiology, Critical Care and Pain, RG Kar Medical College, Kolkata, West Bengal

How to cite this article:
Bhattacharya D. Mystery of platelet rich plasma injection in painful conditions.Indian J Pain 2015;29:121-123

How to cite this URL:
Bhattacharya D. Mystery of platelet rich plasma injection in painful conditions. Indian J Pain [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Sep 20 ];29:121-123
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Full Text

Living with chronic pain is a daily struggle and finding relief can be challenging when platelet- rich plasma (PRP) injection can open up a new horizon for treatment. PRP therapy is a new, innovative, and non-surgical approach to promote healing of injured tendons and ligaments when the conventional treatment fails. [1]

PRP was introduced in pain medicine since the 1990s. [2] Since then it is commonly used for tendinitis, muscle strain and ligamentous injury. [1],[2],[3] Primary use of PRP is for Lateral epicondylitis (Tennis elbow), Medial epicondylitis (Golfer's elbow), Patellar tendinitis (Jumper's knee), Achilles tendinitis and Plantar fasciitis with very good result. [4],[5]

In spite of these encouraging results of platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection in different painful conditions, the controversies are there regarding issues like how to prepare PRP, what should be the dose, how many times it need to repeated, how often it need to be repeated etc.

 How PRP is made? There is no Standardization for Making Platelet Rich Plasma

The PRP concentrate is made from autologous blood. After the blood is centrifuged, it separates into the serum (top coat), the platelets and white blood cells (buffy coat or middle layer), and the red blood cells (bottom layer). The middle layer contains a platelet concentration of at least 1 million platelets/uL (normal range: 150,000-350,000 platelets/uL) and a 3- to 5-fold increase in growth factor concentrations. [6] It takes about an hour for preparation. Using an ultrasound machine, the platelets are injected back into the patient into the damaged, painful area of the body. [6] The administration protocol of PRP is currently remains nonstandardized.

20 cc of blood will yield approximately 3 cc of concentrate, adequate for small target areas. But other systems use upto 60 ml of blood and prepare 6-12 ml of PRP from it. Here is no protocol based centrifuge system till date. Some PRP protocols include white blood cells, whereas others involve activation with thrombin or calcium, with variable platelet concentration. Some protocol uses single centrifugation, some uses double. The optimal concentration of platelets for PRP is also debated. [6] Giusti et al. examined the optimal concentration of platelets is 1.5 million platelets/uL. [7]

 How does PRP act?

PRP enhance, proliferation, and differentiation of cells involved in tissue regeneration to promote healing. [8] These actions are mediated by numerous growth factors and bioactive proteins secreted by PRP's platelets following activation, in a process known as degranulation. [8] Still its exact mechanism of action is yet to be known. Studies have demonstrated that PRP positively affects gene expression, matrix synthesis in tendons and attenuates proinflammatory chemokines. [9]

 Is it a Stem Cell Theory?

It is a question that is unresolved. These regenerative-capable cells are commonly referred to as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), or bone marrow stromal cells with the capability of replicating as undifferentiated cells. [9] Recent evidence by Mirsha and colleagues stated PRP may enhance the effect of MSCs. There is a statistically significant enhancement in MSC proliferation when exposed to PRP in vitro compared to controls. [10]

 Whether PRP has steroid like activity?

PRP generally results in long-lasting relief because the degenerative tissue starts to regenerate or regrow itself. The bioactive proteins stimulate healing and repair. New research shows PRP to be more effective than steroid injections -which simply mask inflammation and have no healing capabilities. [11]

 Does PRP provide instant relief?

It does set the stage for a cascade of healing that takes several weeks to occur. Typically, pain relief starts to occur within three to four weeks and continues to improve over a period of three to six months following an injection. The recovery time frame varies depending on what we are treating. Sometimes arthritic joints respond much faster to these injections than a patient being treated for tendonitis. [12],[13],[14]

 Some Factors are Still Unresolved

How PRP should be prepared? What should be the actual platelet count to initiate healing process? [7] What should be the volume of injection? What is the speed of healing? [15] How it will be stored? How often it should be repeated? What is the long term side effects?

A randomized controlled trial of total 74 patients for arthroscopic repair of median to large rotator cuff tears showed that PRP therapy decreased retear rate of supraspinatus but not the speed of healing. [15]

Despite some unresolved factors protocol based procedure regarding preparation of PRP, injection technique, post injection advice, and concurrent use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will definitely improve the outcome.

The randomized controlled trials are still very few though PRP is being used recently for relieving pain of osteoarthritis, sacroiliac joint pain, facet joint arthropathy and refractory discogenic pain. [16],[17],[18],[19],[20]

Large randomized controlled trial and multicentric studies are needed in this emerging field to establish definite role of PRP, a research product of regenerative medicine with more conclusive evidence for its wide spread use in interventional medicine for chronic pain management to reduce social, psychological and economic burden of society for a pain free world.


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