Platelet-Rich Plasma (P.R.P.) Questions & Answers

What exactly does P.R.P. stand for?

  • P.R.P. stands for Platelet Rich Plasma. Plasma is the liquid characteristic of a patient’s blood, which houses all the cellular components such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Platelets are responsible for naturally making up only ten percent of our blood’s cellular components. In platelet-rich plasma therapy (P.R.P.), the platelet ratio is flipped to around ninety percent platelets. Therefore, the plasma is rich in platelets.

What is PRP therapy?

  • Platelet-rich plasma therapy is an up-and-coming, progressive and non-surgical healing treatment that has become frequently used in many fields. A go-to method for sports medicine and orthopedics, platelet-rich plasma (P.R.P.) is injected into the affected region in order to stimulate and enhance the body’s healing response time. Platelet-rich plasma is virtually a patient’s own blood being modified in a way that produces a mega dose of their body’s own healing “ingredients.” These healing growth factors are typically stored in our platelets.

What types of conditions are treated with P.R.P.?

  • According to various studies and research that have been analyzed, the body’s soft tissue is one of the most responsive areas to a treatment of platelet-rich plasma. Soft tissue injuries include tendonitis, tendinosis, tendon tears, ligament sprains or tears, loose ligaments, and muscle tears. Recognized as an effective treatment for cartilage degeneration such as arthritis, P.R.P. is also a beneficial form of treatment for labrum tears that have taken place in the body’s joints.

What are some common diagnoses treated with PRP?

  • Shoulder Injuries: Rotator cuff tendinitis or a rotator cuff tear, rotator cuff impingement syndrome or bursitis, bicipital tendinitis, labrum tears, arthritis or any form of instability.
  • Elbow, Hand or Wrist Injuries: Tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, DeQuervaine’s Tenosynovitis, trigger finger, arthritis, or any other form of wrist or finger tendonitis.
  • Hip Injuries: Iliotibial band tendinitis (otherwise known as I.T.B. Syndrome), psoas tendinitis and bursitis, greater trochanteric bursitis, labrum tears, arthritis and sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
  • Knee Injuries: Patellar tendinitis, partially torn or strained major ligaments of knee (such as the ACL, LCL or MCL), meniscus tears, chondromalacia, arthritis and instability.
  • Ankle Injuries: Achilles tendinitis, peroneal tendinitis, ankle sprain, instability and any other form of foot or ankle tendinitis.
  • Spine Injuries: Whiplash injury, ligament sprain, instability, rib problems and various forms of diagnosed arthritis.

How is PRP treatment administered?

  • The process of a platelet-rich plasma session begins about one hour prior to the patient’s scheduled time for the administering of this alternative therapy. The patient’s blood is collected by a practitioner’s assistant or the specialist themselves, and is then spun in a centrifuge that is specifically designed to concentrate platelets for platelet-rich plasma (P.R.P.) purposes. Once the blood has been collected and placed into the P.R.P. machine, a topical and injected local anesthetic is provided to the affected region that is seeking treatment. Once the anesthetic has been applied, the specialist administering P.R.P. guides a needle advanced in real time under musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSK) guidance, until the problem target site is reached. By way of this musculoskeletal ultrasound, doctors are able to effectively hit the necessary area without any form of a “blind injection” taking place.

Is P.R.P. a curative treatment or does this serve as just a temporary band-aide?

  • Unlike Cortisone shots, prescription opiates or invasive procedures, P.R.P. (platelet-rich plasma) therapy actually heals the injured region. Patients begin to see immense results in as little as a couple of weeks under most circumstances.

How does PRP work to heal?

  • Growth factors, otherwise known comically as a secret ingredient within platelets, are released from large quantities of activated platelets at the site of injury or affected area. This process leads to an induced inflammatory reaction that is responsible for initiating a powerful and effective healing process. Growth factors are known to not only stimulate blood flow, but also promote a matrix formation which serves as the “groundwork” of all soft tissue. These growth factors also restore tendon and ligamentous proteins that may have been previously compromised in order to “toughen up” cartilage.

Is platelet-rich plasma (P.R.P.) treatment painful?

  • Patients seeking this form of treatment are typically able to tolerate the procedure very well. However, it should be noted that some patients tend to experience a slight bout of post-injection soreness, which is usually an expected side effect is given platelet-rich plasma therapy’s induced inflammatory response.

How many platelet-rich plasma treatments does a patient need?

  • Patients who have a multitude of injuries typically necessitate for around one to three treatments depending on the degree of injury. Another factor that weighs how many administrations of this treatment a patient will need is how long the injury has been present for. In some instances, a fourth treatment is provided for patients if they have additional unwanted pain.

How far apart is a P.R.P. treatment typically spaced out?

  • After a patient has received their first treatment, the next treatment will be typically spaced out around four-to-six weeks after if indicated by the doctor.

What can you expect after getting PRP?

  • After receiving their first treatment, the first forty-eight hours of the post-procedure may feature swelling and discomfort within the injected area. All patients are provided with pain medicine after receiving P.R.P. treatment and can ice the affected area as needed after the injection. By around the fifth day after the procedure, these symptoms will begin to substantially resolve and go away. Doctors will usually recommend a follow-up appointment about one month later in order to evaluate improvement using ultrasound as well as any symptom evolution.

Are there any side effects or complications of using P.R.P. treatment?

  • When platelet-rich plasma therapy is performed by a physician without any use of image guidance, there lays the possible risk of nerve or vessel injury. Patients have also experienced a prolonged increase in pain and stiffness for a couple of days. However, if this problem persists longer than five days you need to seek medical attention.

Are there any forms of exclusion criteria that inhibit someone from getting P.R.P. therapy?

  • Patients who suffer from severe anemia, low platelet counts, abnormal platelet function, active systemic infection or active cancer are all incapable of receiving this treatment due to the contra-indications.

Is PRP covered?

  • No, platelet-rich plasma therapy is considered experimental by insurance companies at this point in time and is not covered by your primary insurance provider.

How long has PRP been around for?

  • This alternative therapy option has revitalized the field of sports medicine for approximately the last ten years.