Platelet Rich Plasma Injections
How Does Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy Work?
Blood is made up of four main components:
- Plasma, which is mostly water and acts primarily as a conduit for the other three components
- Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body’s tissue and remove carbon dioxide
- White blood cells, which help the body fight infection
- Platelets, which promote healing by helping the blood to clot
Platelets promote clotting through the collection and release of growth factors, which aide in tissue regeneration.
In PRP Therapy, a sample of a patient’s own blood is drawn and spun down to collect only the platelets and white blood cells from the sample. The result is a highly concentrated dose of platelets, which are then injected directly into the injury site to promote inflammation and speed the healing process.
Why Should I Choose PRP Therapy Over Another Treatment Option?
- PRP Therapy vs. Steroid Injections – Steroid injections are not considered a long-term solution and frequent steroid injections to control pain can actually weaken tissue in the treated area. PRP Therapy offers the opportunity to heal the affected area, which can be a permanent solution.
- PRP Therapy vs. Surgery – If an injury or pain is severe enough to consider surgery, consider PRP Therapy first. Assuming you are a candidate for PRP Therapy, it is a less invasive option which could provide permanent relief. Compared to surgery, PRP Therapy also offers a lower out-of-pocket cost, reduced risk of infection, and shorter recovery period.
Is PRP Therapy Covered By My Insurance?
Unfortunately, no. Although PRP therapy has been in use since the 1970s, its benefits have only recently been recognized in certain specialties, including orthopedics. For this reason, insurances will not cover PRP therapy and patients can expect an out-of-pocket cost of:
$$$$ per injection, when performed as a stand alone procedure.
$$$$ per injection, when performed in conjunction with a surgical procedure.
What to Expect:
- Initial Visit – An initial consultation with your physician will be required to find out if you are a candidate for PRP Therapy. In some cases, an MRI may be recommended to confirm your diagnosis and rule out any underlying conditions that could cause complications. If you are determined to be a candidate for PRP Therapy, your procedure will be scheduled for another day. This initial consultation is usually covered by your insurance plan.
- Preparation – In the week prior to your injection, do not take aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS).
- Procedure – PRP Therapy is an outpatient procedure done in the office and should last about one hour. Your injection will be guided by ultrasound to ensure optimal placement of the PRP. When the injection is done, it will induce inflammation, which causes immediate pain. Swelling and redness at the injection site is common and can last up to 2 days. Pain can last up to 7 days after injection and some patients require the use of crutches of a splint for a couple of days for comfort.
- Managing Pain – Cold compresses and acetominophen (Tylenol) may be used for the pain. If your pain persists after injection, you can contact your doctor’s office for other approved medications (prescription). However, under no circumstances should you take anti-inflammatory pain medicine (NSAIDS) or aspirin for several months after the injection. These medicines reduce the inflammation the injection has created, thereby interfering with the healing process. Note: If your doctor requires you to take baby aspirin, this regimen can be restarted one week following the PRP injection.
- Recovery – Activity is not restricted after a PRP injection. You may return to your normal activities as soon as you feel ready. Healing and improvement in pain can take approximately 6 weeks. A second or third injection may be required, depending on the severity of the problem. Relief from PRP Therapy can last anywhere from 6 months to a lifetime, depending on the patient, condition, and individual response to therapy.
- Moraes VY (April 2014). “Platelet-rich therapies for musculoskeletal soft tissue injuries”. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 29.
- Yu W, Wang J, Yin J (2011). “Platelet-Rich Plasma: A Promising Product for Treatment of Peripheral Nerve Regeneration After Nerve Injury”. Int J Neurosci 121 (4): 176–180.
- Borrione P, Gianfrancesco AD, Pereira MT, Pigozzi F (2010). “Platelet-rich plasma in muscle healing”. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 89 (10): 854–61.
- Alan Schwarz (2009-02-16). “A Promising Treatment for Athletes, in Blood”. New York Times (New York).
- Foster TE, Puskas BL, Mandelbaum BR, Gerhardt MB, Rodeo SA (2009). “Platelet-rich plasma: from basic science to clinical applications”. Am J Sports Med 37 (11): 2259–72.
- Griffin XL, Smith CM, Costa ML (2009). “The clinical use of platelet-rich plasma in the promotion of bone healing: a systematic review”. Injury 40 (2): 158–62.
- Mishra A, Woodall J, Vieira A (2009). “Treatment of tendon and muscle using platelet-rich plasma”. Clinics in Sports Medicine 28 (1): 113–25.
- Mishra A, Pavelko T (2006). “Treatment of chronic elbow tendinosis with buffered platelet-rich plasma”. The American Journal of Sports Medicine 34 (11): 1774–8.