What are platelets?

Platelets are blood cells that have many functions in the body. They are mainly responsible for helping the body form a clot in the blood so that bleeding from an injury can be controlled. Platelets are also in charge of assisting the body in the repair and healing process. There are proteins in platelets that can help the body heal when they are introduced to the sites of an injury.

What is platelet rich plasma (PRP)?

Platelet rich plasma is a form of regenerative medicine. A suspension that contains a concentrate of the healing factors is produced by a specialized process. In order to make platelet-rich plasma (PRP), a patient’s blood is harvested, spun down in a centrifuge, and the red blood cells are removed such that only the portion of the blood with concentrated platelets remains.

The concentrate produced is called PRP, and it is made up of platelets and proteins that can be used to help heal and treat areas of inflammation in the body.

How does it work?

PRP therapy works by taking advantage of the body’s natural ability to repair injuries and areas of degeneration.

Platelets contain numerous growth factors that assist in tissue healing and repair. These growth factors are contained in the alpha granule portion of the platelets and they are released when the platelet becomes activated which typically occurs at the site of inflammation or injury. Various growth factors assist in different aspects of healing and repair.

What common conditions can be treated with PRP?

PRP therapy is a safe and effective treatment that has many benefits for veterinary patients.

In veterinary medicine, PRP therapy is commonly used to treat inflammatory conditions such as acute and chronic soft tissue injuries and osteoarthritis. It has also been used to help with the healing of skin wounds and ulcers involving the cornea of the eye. There may be a benefit to using PRP treatment to manage Inflammatory dental disease as well. 

How is PRP treatment administered?

PRP treatment is generally administered as an injection. The PRP is injected to the site of injury/inflammation. It is commonly injected directly into the affected joint, tendon, or ligament.

As a result, patients often require sedation to administer the injection safely. Depending on the patient’s temperament, a mild sedative is typically used to reduce anxiety and pain when receiving a PRP injection in most joints. Depending on the location of the injection site, general anesthesia may be needed.

PRP can also be administered topically. When it is used to heal wounds or corneal ulcers, it can be administered directly to the wound or into the affected eye. 

What are the potential side effects of PRP? 

PRP is autologous, meaning it is made from the patient’s own body. This means it less likely to incite an allergic reaction and it also reduces the side effects we can see with it’s use. Your veterinarian can discuss any risks with you prior to the procedure.

Common potential side effects of PRP treatment include:

  • Mild pain at the injection site
  • Mild redness/irritation or bruising at the injection site
  • Mild worsening of limping (if injection administered in the joint)- typically resolves within a few days

If you have further questions or concerns about your pet following treatment, you should always contact your veterinarian directly.

How long do the effects of PRP treatment last? 

The positive effects of PRP treatment are usually evident in a good percentage of our patients within 1-3 weeks after the treatment is administered. Up to 50% of patients require a second treatment of PRP for clinical results to be evident.

Depending on the condition being managed, the therapeutic effects of PRP for mild to moderate osteoarthritis typically appear to last between 6 to 9 months.