Biologic treatments such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), offer patients a chance to improve symptoms and potentially enhance their healing potential for a variety of orthopaedic problems. When applied appropriately, these treatments can allow patients to improve their quality of life while avoiding surgery. They can also enhance healing after surgical intervention.
What conditions may benefit from PRP?
- Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
- Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)
- Jumper’s Knee (Patella Tendonitis)
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
- Alopecia or Hair Loss
- Ligament Injuries
- Muscle Injuries
What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)?
Plasma, Red Blood Cells (RBCs), White Blood Cells (WBCs) and Platelets are the four main components in your blood. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a mixture of the plasma and with a high concentration of platelets that has been isolated from the rest of your blood components in a centrifuge spin. PRP has been used since the 1970s by numerous medical specialties including but not limited to: oncology, hematology, cardiology, urology, maxiofacial, plastic surgery, ophthalmology, as well as for dermatologic, pediatric and orthopedic uses.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) with its abundance of growth factors and cytokines has anti-inflammatory effects, may protect cartilage by inhibiting the enzymes that break cartilage down, and promotes healing. Although there is limited long-term data and controlled studies, those of us who have been utilizing it have seen great benefit for patients.
PRP injections essentially AMPLIFY the individual patient’s ability to heal by concentrating their growth factors and delivering them directly to site of injury.
What is PRP Made From?
PRP is made from the patient’s own blood that has been run through a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets. The patient is injected with a concentration of his or her own platelets to accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints.
PRP has been shown, in animal studies, to improve healing of isolated cartilage defects and slow cartilage destruction. PRP accomplishes this by adding growth factors and inhibiting the enzymes that break down cartilage.
How are regenerative therapy injections given?
A typical protocol is to administer 3 injections over 3 to 4 weeks. Sometimes, however, the provider may just recommend one injection. Patients typically report less pain, swelling and improved function that can last a year or longer. Some patients will need to come back for a booster injection at 6 to 9 months if they begin to experience a relapse.
What happens after your treatment?
It is important to limit vigorous activity for 2 weeks following the injection in order to allow the treatment to begin the healing process. After 2 weeks, you may begin low impact or light resistance activity (ie. walking, elliptical, bike, very light weights). You can Continue with low impact/resistance activity for six weeks and then may then advance to your activities of choice slowly. You should avoid any activity that causes pain.
Avoid aspirin or non-steroidal medications for 1 week prior to your treatment and for 2 weeks following. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), meloxicam, piroxicam etc. Celebrex has minimal effect on platelets and may be resumed after procedure if you require this for other issues.
When will I begin to see some improvement?
Patients may report some improvement as early as 6 weeks but the normal response is after about 8-10 weeks. They also report improvements up to 2 years following the treatment. For some patients, if limited response is seen by 3 months, we may recommend a follow-up PRP injection to add additional growth factors.
What are the results?
In terms of success, we must first define the meaning of the term. Success indicates improvement in pain and function. It does not indicate a cure of the underlying disease. The research currently available suggests that approximately 85% of patients respond favorably to stem cell injections WHEN APPROPRIATELY SELECTED FOR TREATMENT. There are several studies evaluating treatment of knee arthritis. These studies show that patients have significant relief up to 2 years following the injection. Further, they noted that those with more severe arthritis will not benefit as much, and will more likely require additional treatments. The results of treating tendinopathies have shown similar success. This therapy is certainly new, but shows incredible promise and will likely be mainstream in the future.
What are the potential complications?
There have been no reported adverse reactions in patients treated with any of the products that we use. There is typically injection site soreness and occasional swelling and inflammation for a few days after the injection. There is a very low (well less than 1%) risk of infection with these injections.
What is the cost of PRP Therapy?
Regenerative therapy injections vary depending on the site of the injection and the type of procedure our team recommends for your individual condition/situation. Unfortunately, Medicare and other private insurance companies do not cover regenerative therapy treatments. However, we want to make these cutting-edge treatments available to everyone, so we make every attempt to make them as affordable as possible while still utilizing the best equipment and products available. Please call us to discuss costs and treatment options.
Does insurance pay for PRP Therapy?
Insurance companies consider stem cell therapy experimental, and therefore, do not pay for this treatment.
Am I a candidate for PRP Therapy?
If you are suffering from one of the above or other orthopedic conditions, we are happy to have you schedule a consultation and discuss your particular case. You will be given an honest opinion. Our only goal is to have success for our patients! We value and take pride in our patient’s outcomes and look forward to seeing them in the future for other problems.
We want you to understand that we are believers in these treatments when they are appropriately applied. In patients who can benefit from them, the results can be incredible.
Sources for PRP Therapy:
- Colorado Sports Doctor
- Biomed Res Int. 2015; 2015: 542502.
Published online 2015 May 5.
PRP and Articular Cartilage: A Clinical Update