Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy is a minimally invasive non-surgical treatment that relieves pain by promoting long lasting healing of musculoskeletal conditions.
The body’s natural reaction to an injury is to send platelets from the blood to the damaged tissues to initiate healing. Platelets store a vast array of growth factors which are released at the site of injury through cell signals received from the injured tissue to mediate healing.
Platelet Rich Plasma is injected directly into the injured tissue, stimulating the same healing response in a much more potent form. The autologous PRP treatment therefore uses your own concentrated platelets and growth factors to stimulate and enhance the body’s own healing response to treat acute injury, inflammation or chronic degenerative disease.
The Composition of Blood
- Plasma – Constitutes between 52 and 62 percent of whole blood. It is a straw colored fluid in which blood cells, proteins, and other substances are suspended and transported.
- White Blood Cells – Leukocytes – constitute less than 1 percent of whole blood. These attack and destroy potentially harmful foreign matter.
- Platelets – Thrombocytes – constitute less than 1 percent of whole blood. These form clots, blocking blood from exiting wounds.
- Red Blood Cells – Erythrocytes – constitute between 38 and 48 percent of whole blood. These cells keep tissue alive by bringing oxygen to it and taking carbon dioxide away.
By enhancing the body’s natural healing capacity, this treatment has been shown to lead to a more rapid, more efficient and more thorough restoration of the tissues to a healthy state. Since PRP is prepared from our own blood, it causes little to no concern for refection, infection or disease transmission.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)?
PRP is a concentration of platelets, growth factors and cellular signaling factors that play a significant role in the biology of healing. It should also contain plasma proteins and proteases that work in a variety of ways to promote healing and prevent tissue degeneration. The therapeutic PRP dose delivers over 1 billion platelets per mL of treatment; this represents 4-6 fold increase in platelet concentration compared to whole blood.
How is it performed?
After a blood sample is obtained from a patient, the blood is put into a centrifuge which separates the blood into its many components. Platelet rich plasma can then be collected and delivered to an injured area of bone or soft tissue, such as a tendon or ligament, via an injection. Ultrasound guidance can assist in the precise placement of PRP in a process that takes a total of 20-30 minutes. There may be soreness at the site of the injection that can last for a few days. Most people return to work and normal day to day activities immediately after the injection.
Does it hurt? Is it safe?
A local anesthetic is used. This results in minimal discomfort. Since PRP is prepared from your own blood, there is no risk of rejection or disease transmission and virtually no risk of injection.
How well does it work?
There have been numerous clinical studies that show significant healing and long lasting reduction in pain for a variety of injuries. Common injuries include tendon and ligament damage, disc degeneration, sports injuries as well as joint pain and arthritis, results are proving PRP to be an effective and natural alternative to steroid injections which temporarily help alleviate pain symptoms but do not heal the cause of your pain. In a small study involving knee osteoarthritis, PRP treatment was shown to be more effective than hyaluronic acid viscosupplementation treatments. PRP may eliminate the need for more aggressive treatments such as long-term medication or surgery,
Are all PRP concentrating devices, and PRP treatments, created equally?
No. A number of PRP concentrating devices are available commercially, each with varying cost, process and performance. Significant biological differences exist between PRP systems which may explain some variability in clinical outcomes, not to mention your own platelet count. It is, therefore, crucial to know what makes a good quality PRP treatment:
- A therapeutic dose of platelets (over 1 billion platelets/mL)
- A high dose of growth factors released at the site of injury
- A high platelet yield which recovers over 80% of platelets present in your blood
- A pure PRP treatment which removes most red and white blood cells
This clinic has opted to use the EmCyte™ PRP system which delivers all of the above characteristics for a clinically significant outcome. Cheaper devices that require small blood draws and/or use standard test tubes provide low-quality PRP which results in the need for repeat treatments and negative clinical outcomes. Not all PRP is created equally.
How often should I repeat this procedure?
You may gain considerable to complete relief after the first PRP injection. In some cases, especially when the problem has been chronic, additional PRP injections may be necessary. Up to three injections are usually performed at 4-6 weeks apart, if needed
What are the expected results?
Both ultrasound and MRI images have shown definitive tissue repair after PRP therapy, confirming the healing process. The need for surgery can also be greatly reduced by treating injured tissue before the damage progresses and the condition is irreversible. PRP therapy does not provide immediate relief; instead, it sets in motion a repair mechanism that takes 2-3 weeks before pain relief is felt. A study in American Journal of Sports Medicine showed the following results in patients with elbow tendinosis:
- 46% pain relief by week 4
- 60% pain relief by week 8
- 81% pain relief by 6 months
At the conclusion of the study, 93% of patients were completely satisfied with their PRP treatment and had avoided surgery.
There are many applications where PRP Therapy can be very effective. The following are the most common:
Elbow, Hand and Waist
Foot and Ankle
Reimbursement & Insurance
Will my insurance cover this procedure?
While PRP has been used for decades, often in professional athletes who are looking to avoid surgery or prolonged recovery periods, its application in the treatment of pain is relatively new. Because of this, insurance companies do not currently cover PRP therapy.
How much does it cost?
The cost of PRP treatment varies depending on the procedure performed. Our office staff can assist you with payment options and any other questions you may have.