What is PRP?
PRP is “platelet-rich plasma,” also known as autologous platelet concentrate (APC). Platelets are a specialized type of blood cell that are involved in injury healing. With PRP, a concentrated platelet solution is injected into the injured area to stimulate healing.
Why Does PRP Work?
Human platelets are naturally extremely rich in connective tissue growth factors. Injecting these growth factors into damaged ligaments and tendons stimulates a natural repair process. But in order to benefit from these natural healing proteins, the platelets must first be concentrated. In other words, PRP recreates and stimulates the body’s natural healing process.
PRP treatment works best for chronic ligament and tendon injuries that have failed other conservative treatment, including:
• Rotator cuff injuries
• Tennis & golfer’s elbow
• Hamstring and hip strains
• Quadriceps and patellar tendinosis
• Achilles tendinosis & plantar fasciitis
How is PRP Done?
In the office, blood is drawn from the patient and placed in a special centrifuge, where the blood is spun down. The platelets are separated from the red blood cells and are concentrated. The red blood cells are discarded, and the resulting platelet concentrate is used for treatment. While the blood is spinning in the centrifuge, the painful area is injected with lidocaine to numb it. The PRP is then injected using ultrasound guidance. The entire treatment, from blood draw, to solution preparation, to injection, takes 30-40 minutes.
How Often are Injections Given?
After the initial treatment, a follow up visit is scheduled 8-12 weeks later. Some patients respond very well to just one treatment. However, typically 1-3 treatments are necessary.
Is PRP Covered by Insurance?
Since PRP is relatively new, insurance companies vary in coverage. We require payment in advance for the procedure. Our office will gladly submit the upfront fee for the PRP to your commercial insurance and refund the initial cost if it is covered.
Do PRP Injections Hurt?
Because the injured area is first anesthetized with lidocaine, the actual injections are slightly uncomfortable. Once the lidocaine wears off in a few hours, there is usually mild-to-moderate pain for the next few days. Ice for the first 2-3 days after the procedure is beneficial for pain control. For the first week after the injections it is critical to avoid anti-inflammatory medications, including Advil, Motrin, ibuprofen, Aleve, Celebrex. These will interfere with the healing response. Tylenol is OK. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication also.
Are There Risks With PRP?
Anytime a needle is placed anywhere in the body, even getting blood drawn, there is a risk of infection, bleeding, and nerve damage. However, these are very rare. Other complications, though rare, can occur depending on the area being treated, and will be discussed by your doctor before starting treatment.
What is the Success Rate?
Studies suggest an improvement of 80-85%. Some patients experience complete relief of their pain. The results are generally permanent!
To get maximum benefit from the treatment, and to help prevent re-injury, physical therapy after the procedure is required. This helps the newly developing connective tissue mature into healthy and strong tendon or ligament fibers.