What does PRP stand for?

PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma. While platelets normally constitute only 5-10% of the cellular components in our blood, the PRP centrifugation process concentrates the platelets so that they make up approximately 90-95% of the cellular components of the platelet concentrated end product, thereby giving this therapy its name.

What is PRP therapy?

PRP therapy is a progressive non-surgical treatment to treat a variety of orthopedic conditions including arthritis, tendon injuries, and ligament injuries.

PRP is part of a group of state-of-the-art treatments collectively referred to as Regenerative Medicine.  PRP treats an injured area naturally using your body’s own growth factors to accelerate healing.

What types of conditions are treated with PRP?

Numerous conditions can be considered for treatment with PRP.  Based on current research and clinical experience, osteoarthritis, cartilage defects, soft tissue injuries, and tendon injuries show promising results with PRP therapy.

How is PRP treatment performed and administered?

The PRP process is simple and generally well tolerated.  First, the patient’s blood is collected and placed into a special container.  The blood is then placed into a centrifuge and spun to concentrate the platelets.  Once the PRP is harvested, it is injected to the damaged area using a local anesthetic for comfort and under the guidance of musculoskeletal ultrasound to ensure proper placement.

Is PRP therapy just a “band-aide” providing temporary relief?

Unlike steroid (cortisone) injections which provide temporary relief, PRP actually heals the injured region using your body’s own growth factors.

How does PRP heal?

PRP treats an injured area naturally using your body’s own growth factors to accelerate healing.  These growth factors, which are released from activated platelets, induce a mild inflammatory reaction that initiates a powerful healing cascade.  Blood flow to the damaged area is increased and matrix formation is promoted. This results in firmer and more resilient cartilage, as well as restoration of tendon and ligament proteins which may have been damaged.

Is PRP painful?

Local anesthetic is used to minimize any discomfort associated with the injection and patients typically tolerate the procedure well.  Some post-injection soreness is expected given that PRP induces a mild inflammatory response as part of the healing process.  This soreness generally resolves within the first 5-7 days after the injection.  Patients are given a prescription for pain medication to take as needed, although this is seldom required.

How many treatments do you need and how often are they given?

While each case is unique and treated on an individual basis, most patients respond to 1-3 treatments depending on how long the injury has been present as well as the degree of the damage.  In some instances, a fourth treatment is provided.  Treatments are typically spaced 4-6 weeks apart.

Is physical therapy an important part of PRP therapy?

Yes.  Approximately one week after PRP therapy, physical therapy is started to optimize PRP affects.

Are there any side effects or complications of PRP?

Temporary pain and stiffness is expected and is the most common side effect of PRP therapy, although these symptoms generally resolve within the first 5-7 days after the injection.  Ultrasound guidance is utilized to minimize risk of nerve or vessel injury and to ensure proper placement.  As with all injections, a sterile technique is used to minimize the risk for infection.

Are there any conditions or exclusion criteria that inhibit someone from getting PRP?

Conditions and exclusion criteria that would inhibit someone from getting PRP therapy include severe anemia, low platelet counts, abnormal platelet function, active systemic infection, or active cancer.

Is PRP covered by insurance?

No.  While there are currently several thousand publications  in peer-reviewed medical journals showing the positive effects of PRP therapy on tendon, soft tissue, and cartilage injuries, PRP is still not covered by insurance companies at this time.

How long has PRP been used to treat musculoskeletal injuries?

In the field of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, PRP therapy has been used for approximately 10 years.

When can the positive effects of PRP be expected?

Unlike a cortisone injection which typically provides rapid pain relief within a few days, symptom improvement following PRP therapy is more slow and subtle, but the positive effects are longer lasting when compared to cortisone.  Most patients receiving PRP notice some element of improvement between 2-6 weeks after the injection. “Good days” become more common and “bad days” become less common as time passes.   Patients typically report reduced pain intensity, increased endurance, and improved strength.


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