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Platelet rich plasma therapy, or PRP therapy, is a cutting-edge treatment option for chronic pain patients. PRP therapy is a newer treatment option that:
Amazing!! No surgery, no risk of complications, no days lost from work, no rehab. All done using your own platelets, with no risk of rejection.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains what platelet rich plasma is: "Although blood is mainly a liquid (called plasma), it also contains small solid components (red cells, white cells, and platelets.) The platelets are best known for their importance in clotting blood. However, platelets also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in the healing of injuries. PRP is plasma with many more platelets than what is typically found in blood. The concentration of platelets — and, thereby, the concentration of growth factors — can be 5 to 10 times greater (or richer) than usual."
By using this concentrated platelet rich plasma, many find that it encourages the natural healing powers of the body. As the Virginia Spine Institute explains: "Platelets are naturally extremely rich in the connective tissue growth and healing factors. The body's first response to tissue injury is to deliver platelets to the area. Platelets initiate repair and attract stem cells to the injury. Injecting these growth factors into damaged ligaments, tendons, and joints stimulates the natural repair process. In order to maximize the healing process, the platelets must be concentrated and separated from the red blood cells. The goal of PRP is to maximize the number of platelets while minimizing the number of red blood cells in a solution that is injected into the injured or pained area(s). In summary, PRP creates, stimulates, and accelerates the body's natural healing process."
Some of the benefits of PRP therapy include:
PRP therapy can be used to treat the following conditions:
Some anecdotal evidence has also supported the use of PRP for hair loss, facial pain, back pain, and other forms of knee pain.
Since PRP therapy uses your own blood, the risk of PRP injection side effects are minimal. They may include:
ProloTherapy.com explains: "PRP therapy has low risk and few side effects. Concerns such as hyperplasia have been raised regarding the use of growth factors, however there have been no documented cases of carcinogenesis, hyperplasia, or tumor growth associated with the use of autologous PRP. PRP growth factors never enter the cell or its nucleus and act through the stimulation of external cell membrane receptors of adult mesenchymal stem cells, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, osteoblasts, and epidermal cells. This binding stimulates expression of a normal gene repair sequence, causing normal healing – only much faster. Therefore PRP has no ability to induce tumor formation. Also, because it is an autologous sample, the risk of allergy or infectious disease is considered negligible. Evidence also exists in studies that PRP may have an antibacterial effect."
You will feel a notable increase in pain in the days immediately following the injection. Pain intensity becomes less each day as functional mobility and general functional ability increase along with endurance and strength. You will notice gradual improvement 2-6 weeks after PRP therapy. Some patients report ongoing improvement 6-9 months after PRP therapy is administered.
The Institute of Regenerative Medicine notes some of the aftercare requirements for the days following a PRP injection, including rest, avoiding alcohol and tobacco products, and restricting non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
PRP injection cost depends on the treatment being performed and the doctor you're visiting. Costs can range from $500 to $2,000. Since the treatment is still considered experimental, unfortunately it is often not covered by insurance plans. Insurers have not covered PRP because of the lack of science. Patients currently pay out of pocket, sometimes thousands of dollars, to get PRP. With evidence-based recommendations, insurance companies hopefully will consider coverage for this therapy.
PRP research is ongoing, with more surveys needed of the existing literature, as well as large-scale randomized controlled trials. Others note that more systematic study designs and parameters should be used to show the efficacy of this therapy. Some highlights of existing research include:
As the above-mentioned research notes, PRP for plantar fasciitis is one of the most scientifically-backed uses for PRP therapy. Plantar fasciitis is an extremely common foot pain condition, affecting one out of every ten adults. The thick connective tissue on the bottom of the foot, the plantar fascia, can become damaged or strained with overuse. This leads to inflammation and pain. PRP for plantar fasciitis encourages the natural healing processes of the body to reduce inflammation related to plantar fasciitis.
PRP injections for knee pain are one of the most common uses for PRP therapy. PRP injections for knee pain may include treating pain related to:
Achilles tendonitis, an overuse injury impacting the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle, can be treated by PRP therapy. This is often done after other more conservative treatment options, like physical therapy and rest, have been found not to work. Dennis Cardone, DO, has an interesting interview in Scientific American where he notes the healing results for PRP for tendonitis.
PRP for tennis elbow is another common use for this cutting-edge treatment. Tennis elbow, an overuse injury typically experienced by tennis players or those who have physical jobs, can be excruciating. PRP therapy provides another option by encouraging the body's own natural healing processes. This infographic from Dr. PRP USA gives a quick rundown of how this treatment can help with tennis elbow.
Like knee pain, most applications of PRP therapy for ankle pain are to help reduce arthritis pain or pain related to sports injuries.
One of the first larger journalism pieces on PRP therapy came from The New Yorker in their article, "The Blood Injections That Might Transform Orthopedics." In that piece, they looked at one patient who suffered from a rotator cuff injury. As they reported, the patient saw results immediately. PRP therapy almost completely reduced any pain. Dr. Ibrahim, who performed the procedure was quoted in the article: "The outcome didn't surprise Ibrahim, who estimates that he has treated around five thousand people with P.R.P. over the past five years. He says that the treatment can repair tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and nerves, and can even regrow tissue that has been frayed or damaged. This, he suspects, is what happened with Waddell's rotator cuff. ‘For a lot of conditions, it's almost a wonder drug,' Ibrahim told me. ‘We've figured out a way to help the body regenerate itself.'"
PRP therapy is an exciting new option for many pain patients who haven't found success with more conservative treatment options. While there is still much research to be done on this treatment, anecdotal evidence and an increasing amount of studies are beginning to support the use of this treatment for many pain conditions.
If you think you may benefit from learning more about platelet rich plasma injection therapy, call us today at (601)856-2383 for your free consultation.