What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)?
Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP is a type of Regenerative Injection Therapy use to treat many soft tissue injuries (tendons and ligaments).
How is PRP therapy performed?
PRP involves taking blood from a vein in the arm and placing it into a special centrifuge. The platelets are separated from the rest of the components of the blood. The platelets are combined with a special substrate to enhance the effects. This is then injected into the injured or painful area. Once healing takes place, over the course of a few weeks, the pain should lessen.
Is this the same as a cortisone injection?
No. Cortisone injections are a synthetic corticosteroid that are injected in the joints or areas of soft tissue to reduce pain and inflammation. While cortisone injections in limited amounts can be helpful, they do not alter the underlying cause (disease process) and therefore often have to be repeated. There are many documented risks of having “too much cortisone” and suppression of the immune system. PRP involves using the patient’s own blood which contain natural growth factors that promote regenerative of tissue and decreased inflammation. PRP is aimed at being a curative treatment, whereas cortisone is not. PRP does not carry the same side effects as cortisone.
What musculoskeletal conditions can be treated with PRP?
Neck and back pain, , shoulder pain, rotator cuff injuries, knee pain, Knee bursitis, tennis elbow, golfers elbow, chronic ankle pain, Achilles tendonitis, hip bursitis.
How do I know if I am a candidate for PRP?
A consultation is required before any treatment may take place. The consultation includes a comprehensive review of your complaints, medical history and a thorough examination will be conducted. Diagnostic studies will be reviewed and/or ordered at the time of the consultation to determine the cause of your complaint(s). Once a diagnosis is established, Dr. Shim will discuss treatment options with you including if you are a candidate for PRP. Often, other non-surgical treatments may be tried first. PRP is often just one element of a comprehensive treatment program.
Is PRP painful?
While everyone’s pain tolerances vary, patient’s report a range of discomfort from mild to moderate with PRP injections. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in the arm initially and then small needles are used to perform the actual injection(s).
How many injections will I need?
This is no universal answer to this question. Typically 1 to 3 injections. Much of this depends on the chronicity and location of your problem. Some patients can successfully be treated with one injection while others require multiple injections over a time period to eliminate or reduce pain to an acceptable level.
How long does PRP take to perform?
Depending on the number of areas being treated, most procedures will be completed in 30 – 45 minutes.
How do I know if PRP has helped me?
The answer to this is simple. PRP does not “mask” your pain and other symptoms like pain medication. If PRP has helped you, you will notice a difference in your overall pain level and function. Many patients will see an increase in overall pain levels initially, but as the healing process occurs, symptoms are expected to resolve gradually over the course of 4 to 6 weeks on average. Much depends on the patient’s overall level of health, age, diet, and activity levels. For some patients, repeat treatments may be needed.
How long does the effect from PRP last?
This is different for everyone. Much depends on the underlying disease process and whether there have been a recurrent injury to the affected area. It is impossible to predict if and when further treatments will be needed for a specific condition. In some cases, patients do come back months or years later for repeat PRP injections.
Is PRP experimental?
Most insurance carriers deem PRP as investigational as there has not been enough large studies of PRP conducted. Like other new medical technology, the science behind PRP is still developing. There are numerous Level I and II studies attesting to the safety and efficacy of use with specific musculoskeletal conditions.
Why is PRP not covered by my health insurance plan?
As above, most insurance carriers deem PRP as investigational since there is not a significant amount of large, well-controlled published studies in the medical literature. Many patients find the out of pocket cost well worth the investment in trying to reduce pain and disability.
What are the possible side effects?
As with any type of injection, there is a small risk of infection, injury to blood vessels and risk of bleeding. There is a small risk of injury to a tendon or ligament when injected. While not truly considered a side effect, many patients will experience increased pain or discomfort for a temporary period following the treatment. If you have been ill or running fever, it is advisable to discuss this with the physician before considering this type of treatment.
Can I be allergic to the solutions injected?
Although extremely rare, some patients may have an adverse reaction to their own serum. It is also possible to have a reaction to the substrate that is used.
What is the success rate of PRP?
The success rate of PRP therapy varies considerably. Much depends of the condition being treated, health status of the patient, age, and treatment protocol. Success is also highly subjective and dependent on the patient’s perception. Success rates reported in the literature have been largely anecdotal. PRP success in the treatment of tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) has been reported in up to 80-90% in some studies,Achilles tendonitis 70-80% and golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) 60-70%.
What are the costs of PRP?
An initial consultation is required to determine if you are a candidate for PRP. Within our practice, we offer patients several options:
- Consultation with John Shim, M.D, Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon
- Please call our office to inquire about consultation and injection charges. In some cases, your health insurance plan may cover the costs of consultation.
I have already had treatment for my condition but want to consider PRP. How do I obtain more information and schedule an appointment?
Please call our Westchase Office at (813) 814-9251 to schedule. We also encourage you to thoroughly review this website as the information contained within will answer most questions. We can offer you a timely and convenient appointment for your consultation. Based on prior treatment and work-ups you have had done already, in many cases, we can offer the PRP procedure the same day.
If PRP is so great then why have I not heard about it before?
As previously mentioned, the use of PRP has really accelerated within the last decade. Newer techniques, protocols, and trials continue to take place and provide a greater understanding behind this technology. PRP therapy is not something that is commonly taught as a part of a standard medical school curriculum. As the treatment for many diseases and disorders continues to evolve, we continue to expand on traditional treatments in search of ones that are more efficacious and safe.
What can I do after having PRP? Activity levels?
It is recommended that you drink plenty of fluids following your treatment. Your physician will advise you to limit strenuous activity such as working-out for a certain period. You should also avoid the use of anti-inflammatory medications (Ex: Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc.) for at least 4 weeks. These medications inhibit the body’s ability to heal. It is important that you also complete follow-up visits so that the physician can evaluate your progress. Skipping appointments and waiting too long may compromise the effect of future treatments. Specific instructions will be provided at the time of your treatment. A structured rehabilitation program will often be included with PRP injections.
I keep hearing about 'stem cells'. What is the difference between PRP and Stem Cells?
PRP contains natural growth factors and vital proteins that can help heal injured areas of soft tissue. Following injection of PRP, stem cells are recruited to the area to promote tissue healing.Stem cell therapy is much more powerful than PRP. In stem cell therapy, new cells are created to grow new tissue and heal disease.
Often the treatments are combined as combined as platelets are necessary to recruit stem cells and are essential for tissue healing.
In general, PRP is used to treat conditions that often have the ability to heal themselves but may require a “jumpstart”, whereas stem cells are used in cases of more advanced conditions such as degenerative arthritis, bony defects, and in cases of spinal disc degeneration.