Harvard Health Letter

Platelet-rich plasma therapy

Harnessing the healing power of these blood cells is intriguing, but research is lacking.

Times have changed since the days of bloodletting, when doctors treated their patients by taking blood out of them. Now a procedure called platelet-rich plasma therapy has emerged that involves injecting a portion of the blood back into an ailing joint. You might say it's bloodletting in reverse.

More doctors are beginning to offer platelet-rich plasma therapy to their patients as a way to treat joint problems caused by damaged and inflamed tendons. It is being used as an alternative to surgery in some cases and as an adjunct to speed healing in others. So far, research and use of the technique has been geared toward tendons, but treatment of muscle and bone problems is a possibility.

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