Platelet Rich Plasma, or PRP, is a revolutionary new treatment for chronic musculoskeletal injuries. PRP is blood plasma with concentrated platelets that contain huge reservoirs of bioactive proteins, including growth factors that are vital to initiate and accelerate tissue repair and regeneration. These bioactive proteins initiate connective tissue healing, bone regeneration and repair, promote development of new blood vessels, and stimulate the wound healing process.
Many sports medicine and orthopedic communities have taken of the advantage, including professional NFL athletes like Pittsburgh Steelers stars Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu who credit PRP for enabling them to play in the 2009 Super Bowl. Tiger Woods received PRP treatments to help him recover faster from the knee surgery. Golf Digest reports PRP as a great option for golfers 40 and older because they typically don't heal as fast as younger players.
While clot formation is an important function of platelets, they are also very much involved in the injury healing process. Human platelets are naturally extremely rich in connective tissue growth factors; however, PRP can increase the concentration of platelets and growth factors by up to 500%. Injecting these growth factors into damaged ligaments, tendons, and joints stimulates a natural repair process.
Simply, PRP treatment recreates and stimulates the body’s natural healing process.
To prepare PRP, a small amount of blood is taken from the patient. The blood is then placed in a special centrifuge. The centrifuge spins and produces the PRP by separating the red blood cells leaving the remaining platelets and plasma. The red blood cells are discarded, and the resulting platelet concentrate is used for treatment. The “spinning” process takes 15 minutes.
Ultrasound guidance is used for 100% accuracy and better effectiveness of the PRP procedure.
PRP treatment works best for chronic ligament, tendon or joint injuries that have failed other conservative treatment, including:
Patients can see a significant improvement in symptoms. This may eliminate the need for more aggressive treatments, such as long term medication or surgery, and help the patient achieve a remarkable return of function.
How many PRP treatments are necessary?
While responses to treatment vary, most people will require 2-4 sets of injections. Each set of treatment is spaced approximately 4-6 weeks apart. There is no limit to the number of treatments you can have. The risks and side effects do not change with the number of injections.
You are restricted from the use of non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID’s) one week prior to the procedure and throughout the course of treatment.
Initially, the procedure may cause some localized soreness and discomfort. Most patients only require extra-strength Tylenol to help with the pain. Ice and heat may be applied to the area as needed.
The first week after the procedure, patients will typically start a rehabilitation program with physical therapy.
PRP therapy helps regenerate tendons, ligaments and joints, but it is not a quick fix. This therapy is stimulating the growth and repair of tendons, ligaments and joints, requiring time and rehabilitation. Through regular visits, Dr. Gradzka will determine when you are able to resume regular physical activities.
Studies suggest an improvement of 80-85%. Some patients experience complete relief of their pain. The results are long lasting.
Most insurance plans, including Medicare, do not pay for PRP injections.