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We’ve been using platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to successfully treat tendon injuries for many years. A study reported in the February 16, 2015, issue of Lancet medical journal is interesting as it combined an in vitro study and an in vivo human study to test the effectiveness of the use of a PRP Achilles tendon treatment.

Platelet-rich plasma, made by extracting and concentrating the platelets in a patient’s blood, is becoming a more widely used treatment. Platelets contain healing growth factors that increase the body’s natural ability to repair itself. The platelets have a stimulating effect on the stem cells within the damaged area. Since stem cells play a key role in repairing damaged tissue, anything that causes the stem cells to work harder promotes better healing in areas that have not been able to repair themselves.

In the study reported in Lancet, researchers took samples from 20 patients whose ruptured Achilles tendons had been treated with PRP, and 20 patients who were treated with a placebo. The samples were taken six weeks after treatment from the healing area of the tendon. The samples were imbedded in paraffin and stained to examine healing markers.  The results were that PRP improved healing by promoting better collagen I deposition, decreased cellularity and vascularity, and showed a greater concentration of glycosaminoglycan when compared with control samples, all of which simply means better healing was accomplished.

There is no doubt that PRP turns on the healing switches needed for your body to heal tendons.  What was significant about this study was that it looked at the healing process from an immuno-histochemistry point of view, measuring the markers of in vivo healing in real human patients. This study clearly shows that PRP works to help Achilles tendons heal, the only question now is how well it works in a larger numbers of patients, which is something that a randomized controlled trial would help answer.

“PRP Achilles Tendon Treatment Studied…” first appeared as a post on the Regenexx blog.