Rikin J. Patel, DO - Board certified PM&R, Interventional Pain Board certified Sports Medicine
Regenerative biomedicine is progressively emerging at the forefront of medicine. Advancements in novel bioactive therapies have occurred in the last 2 decades.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) has been used in maxillofacial and plastic surgery since the 1990s. Its use is now expanding into the orthopedic and sports medicine fields as a result of its potential to speed up the healing of muscle and tendon injuries, as well as degenerative conditions. While still considered experimental, clinical trials and anecdotal cases have shown promising results for this innovative therapy.
PRP platelets are a component of blood which after injury plays a vital role in supervising healing by releasing growth factors and influencing tissue repair. Platelet rich plasma is a sample of autologous [your own] blood with concentrations of platelets above baseline values [more platelets than what would be found in your own blood to begin with.
This sample of blood is drawn from you the same way you draw blood for lab tests. This blood is then spun down in a centrifuge to separate the red blood cells. The plasma is then divided into platelet-poor and platelet-rich portions. The active platelet-rich portion of the plasma is then injected back into the site on your body that is being treated.
Commonly treated conditions include but are not limited to; acute muscle tears and strains, chronic tendinopathies (tennis elbow, Achilles tendon, patellar tendon and rotator cuff); ligament injuries (ie: ACL); and for osteoarthritis.
Because the platelet-rich plasma that is injected into you comes from your own body, safety concerns are currently low. As with any injection, the procedure is performed with attention to sterility in order to avoid potential infection.
Clearance would need to be obtained for patients considering PRP who have a history of thrombocytopenia, use anticoagulants, or have an active infection, tumor, metastatic disease, or are pregnant. There are no documented cases of carcinogenesis, hyperplasia, or tumor growth associated with the performance of PRP on a patient.
Currently, some insurance companies cover PRP therapy for certain conditions. Check with your doctor or call your carrier. PRP injections may be performed at a reasonable expense in situations where insurance coverage is lacking. In addition the procedure is often completed under direct ultrasound guidance to ensure accurate and precise delivery of PRP to your injured area. Laboratory research has shown that the growth factors in PRP can regulate the inflammatory phase of the body’s repair process and improve healing.
PRP is a great option for patients who have failed conservative treatment (medications, physical therapy and cortisone injections), who are not surgical candidates or prefer a non-surgical minimally invasive alternative. If you would like more specific information and examples of results on the efficacy of PRP treatment, please speak to your physician. A physician evaluation will determine your candidacy or the appropriateness of the procedure based on your symptoms and history of treatments, while providing you more detail on the subject.