Platelet Rich Plasma Injections
PLATELET-RICH PLASMA: Despite all the advances in orthopedics over the years there is still much we don’t know. Over the past few years, there has been an increased focus on using the body’s own natural mechanisms to help accelerate healing and possibly even reverse some conditions which have not felt to be reversible. One of the more promising therapies is called platelet rich plasma or PRP. Although it is not effective in every patient, there is a suggestion that it can help accelerate healing in acute ligament injuries, resolve chronic tendon problems and potentially reverse mild to moderate arthritis especially in the knees. Although scientists are still trying to determine how exactly it works and what conditions it has the best chance of helping, it appears to be a safe treatment with little risk.
WHAT IS PLATELET RICH PLASMA? Contained within your blood is a small cell called a platelet. Primarily, is responsible for initiating the clotting mechanism when you bleed. However, contained within the platelets are substances called growth factors. These growth factors are very powerful proteins that help with healing injuries. To create PRP, a small sample of blood is taken from a patient. The platelets are then separated from the rest of the blood components and concentrated into a syringe. This is then injected into the problem area of the patient, either into the tendon or the joint. Again, it is not exactly known how, but the concentrated growth factors appear to speed up the healing process and possibly reverse the arthritis.
WHAT CONDITIONS CAN BE TREATED? As of right now, treatment of mild to moderate arthritis of the knee with PRP appears to show the most promise. There is good evidence to show that it can help with pain control and possibly even reverse some of the changes of arthritis. In addition to arthritis, there are suggestions that it may help with some chronic tendon problems such as tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis, and patellar tendinitis, or jumpers knee. Although PRP has been tried to accelerate healing in rotator cuff tears of the shoulder and ligament tears in the knee, scientific evidence that it works is lacking. However, it may be due to our limited understanding on how to prepare the PRP prior to injection.
HOW SAFE IS PRP? One of the main benefits about PRP is that it has very low risk. Compared to other types of injections, such as steroids, there are no systemic worries such as an increase in blood pressure or blood sugar and no worries about weakening tendons at the insertion site. Certainly however, any time that something is injected into the body, there is always a small risk of infection but this appears to be very small.
DOES INSURANCE COVER PRP THERAPY? As of now, PRP therapy is still considered medically experimental by the insurance companies. Therefore, they will not pay for PRP therapy and the entire cost of the procedure is paid for by the patient.
AM I A CANDIDATE FOR PRP? If you have chronic tendinitis or mild to moderate arthritis of the knee, you may be a good candidate for PRP therapy. There may be other conditions that may respond to PRP therapy as well. If you are interested, please contact Dr. Jeffers for an appointment to discuss your particular case.