What is PRP?
Platelet Rich Plasma, or PRP, is a revolutionary new treatment for chronic sports and 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 advantage of this treatment including professional NFL athletes who credit PRP treatment for enabling them to stay in the game. In golf news, Tiger Woods received PRP treatments to help him recover faster from surgery on his knee. Pittsburgh Steelers stars Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu credit PRP treatment for enabling them to play in the Super Bowl. Golf Digest reports PRP as a great option for golfers 40 and older because they typically don’t heal as fast as younger players.
Why does PRP work?
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.
How is PRP performed?
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 automatically 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 less than 15 minutes.
The Hirsh Center providers use ultrasound guidance for all PRP treatments to insure precise and safe placement of the platelet concentrate in the damaged area. Ultrasound guidance allows the doctor to see blood vessels, nerves and other sensitive structures to avoid them. The use of guidance reduces any discomfort the patient may have and may make the procedure more effective.
Is PRP right for me?
PRP treatment works best for chronic ligament, tendon or joint injuries that have failed other conservative treatment, including:
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Sports injuries
- ACL tears
- Shin splints
- Shoulder pain and instability
- Tennis & golfer’s elbow
- Hamstring and hip strains
- Knee sprains and instability
- Carpel tunnel syndrome
- Achilles tendinosis & plantar fasciitis
- Knee, hip, and other joint osteoarthritis
What are the potential benefits?
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.
Are there any special instructions?
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; however, aggressive physical activity is discouraged.
How soon can I go back to regular physical activities?
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, our team will determine when you are able to resume regular physical activities.
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.
Is PRP Covered by Insurance?
Most insurance plans, including Medicare, do not pay for PRP injections. In some cases, insurances may offer partial coverage.