What is a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection for the foot and ankle?

Plasma is a type of clear fluid that makes up your blood. It carries red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets — which help your blood clot — and other small cellular elements around your body. Plasma is also full of proteins that can help your body make new cells. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a substance made of concentrated plasma. It has higher levels of platelets, proteins and other substances than regular blood plasma does.

Doctors can inject PRP into your body to help your cells heal faster. They often use this treatment for foot and ankle conditions. PRP has higher concentrations of substances that encourage your body to grow new tissue. This may help your body do a better job of recovering from certain injuries or conditions. PRP injections may reduce pain and get your muscles moving more smoothly.

What to expect from platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections for the foot and ankle

Doctors create PRP from your own blood. During a treatment, your doctor draws a few small vials of blood from a vein in your body. Then, the doctor or a medical technician places these vials into a machine called a centrifuge. This spins the vials very fast. As the vials spin, the blood inside them separates into different layers of red blood cells, white blood cells and plasma.

Once the components of your blood separate, the doctor uses some of them to create the PRP injection. Sometimes, doctors add substances called thrombin and calcium chloride to the injection mixture. These can help stimulate the platelets in the injection mixture to start working faster. 

When the injection is ready, your doctor cleans the area where you're getting the shot. The doctor then uses a syringe filled with PRP to inject the substance. They might also use an ultrasound machine to see inside your body. This imaging can help the doctor place the injection into the area right around your injury.

You likely won't experience many side effects from a PRP injection. That's because it's made from your own blood. After you have the injection, you need to rest for a few days. You might also begin physical therapy to strengthen the area where you had the injection. Your doctor may want you to wear a boot or brace on your foot. This keeps it stable while it heals.

Common foot and ankle conditions requiring treatment

PRPs can be helpful for treating a variety of health conditions, especially those related to your feet and ankle joints, muscles and tendons. Common conditions that a PRP injection may treat include:

  • Sprains
  • Arthritis
  • Fasciosis
  • Tendinosis
  • Pulled muscles
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tendon injuries
  • Ankle ligament injuries
  • Injuries or pain you experience after foot or ankle surgery

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