What is PRP Therapy?

September 03, 2015

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy, commonly referred to as PRP Therapy, is one of the newer sports injury treatments within sports medicine. PRP Therapy is frequently used for the treatment of tendinopathy and mild osteoarthritis. PRP is a blood product obtained from the patient through a simple blood draw. During the blood draw, about 30cc of blood is drawn out and put into a centrifuge that is able to separate the platelet rich part of the blood. It is then injected back into the same patient's tendon or joint. The platelet rich plasma contains healthy growth factors that aid in healing. This new treatment is becoming increasingly more popular among the sports medicine and orthopaedic communities.
Platelets are tiny blood cells that circulate in the blood. After injury, it is the platelets’ function to not only clot and stop bleeding, but also to release growth factors that enable the healing mechanisms of the body. Inside platelets are alpha granules that contain cytokines, growth factors, and proteins that are essential for tissue repair and healing. PRP is often injected into areas where it is difficult for the blood to naturally get to, including the rotator cuff, elbow, patella tendon, Achilles tendon, and plantar fascia. Injecting concentrated platelets into damaged ligaments, tendons, and joints through PRP therapy stimulates a natural repair process. PRP therapy essentially recreates and stimulates the body’s natural healing process. 
PRP is a great option when other treatments, including, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and cortisone injections, have failed. It is most commonly used in lateral epicondylosis, patella tendinosis, and achilles tendinosis. It can also be used in the rotator cuff muscles and in joints for mild osteoarthritis. PRP is becoming increasingly popular for a number of reasons:
  • It contains entirely natural products from a patient’s own blood.
  • Cortisone injections into tendons of the lower extremity can lead to rupture or tears of those tendons.
  • Long-term use of anti-inflammatory pills only masks symptoms and does not heal the tissue. In addition, the use of anti-inflammatory pills can cause gastrointestinal problems.
  • The success rate for surgical management of tendonitis can vary and is unpredictable for any individual. 

If you think you or a loved one could benefit from PRP therapy, call our office to schedule an appointment. Have more questions? See the answers to some frequently asked questions below.
Is PRP therapy safe?
Yes, although there are the same risks that are associated with other injections – including infection, bleeding, and tendon rupture. OAA minimizes these risks by cleaning the skin, performing the injection as a sterile procedure, and by using ultrasound guidance to make sure the injection occurs at the exact location it is intended for. Furthermore, there is little risk associated with injecting one’s own blood product back into their body. All injections contain entirely natural byproducts of the patient’s own blood.

Will my insurance cover PRP therapy?
At this time, most insurance companies do not cover PRP therapy. Check with your insurance provider for more information.

How often can I get PRP injections?
The frequency of injections varies depending on the area of the body that is in need of PRP therapy. Some areas require one injection, while other areas require multiple injections.

Will PRP substitute surgery?
Although PRP can help some individuals delay or avoid surgery all together, it should not be seen as a substitute for surgery in all cases. Some injuries may still require surgery.
How Can I Benefit From PRP Therapy?
Accelerated healing may lead to a vast improvement in a patient’s condition. By addressing the cause of the problem, PRP has allowed certain patients to eliminate the need for long-term opioid medications and avoid surgery.