Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
Platlet-Rich Plasma, or PRP, consists of two elements: plasma, or the liquid portion of blood, and platelets, a type of blood cell that plays an important role in healing throughout your body.
What is PRP treatment and how can it help me?
PRP treatment is a step-by-step therapeutic process where the provider draw’s the patient’s blood, concentrates the platelets, and then injects them into the injured area. Platelets contain growth factors and other proteins that stimulate tissue repair and reduce inflammation, which promotes the healing of many musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.
PRP treatment is recommended when other traditional conservative methods of treatment have failed, such as physical therapy, rest, medications, and steroid injections. PRP efficacy may vary based on individual cases.
What musculoskeletal injuries or conditions can PRP treat?
PRP can treat a range of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions:
- Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis
- Ankle pain
- Knee pain
- Shoulder pain and instability
- Back pain
- Muscle, tendon and ligament injuries
Rotator cuff injuries
Strains and sprains
- Knee strains and instability
- Tennis and golfer's elbow
- Hamstring and hip
What does the PRP procedure involve?
PRP is a minimally invasive injection, performed as an outpatient procedure. The complete process typically takes less than an hour.
- A sample of blood is drawn from the patient’s arm.
- The sample of blood is then placed in a centrifuge that spins at high speed, which separates platelets from other blood cells.
- The blood is then processed to collect the platelets and mix them with anticoagulant to prevent blood from clotting.
- Numbing medication may be applied sparingly around the injection site to offset any discomfort or pain from the injection. The portion of concentrated platelets is then injected into the site of injury with ultrasound guidance.
What are the risks of a PRP injection?
A PRP injection is a low-risk procedure and does not usually cause major side effects. Less common risks include:
- Allergic reaction
- Nerve injuries
- Tissue damage
Will insurance pay for the PRP procedure?
Currently, the FDA considers PRP investigational for many of the musculoskeletal injuries being referred. Medicare currently only covers PRP for chronic wound treatment. Most insurance plans do not cover the cost of PRP, making the patient responsible for payment. Therefore, Washington University requires payment in full prior to the service being performed. Insurance plans will be billed upon request and if the service is determined to be covered, a refund will be provided to the patient.
Preparing for PRP Treatment
Before the Procedure
Two weeks before your PRP injection, stop all anti-inflammatory medications such as Motrin, Meloxicam, Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve, etc.
After the Procedure
After your PRP injection, you will be given personalized instructions.
- Stay hydrated and eat healthy, nourishing meals.
- Do not take a bath, swim, or use a hot tub for 48 hours. You may shower.
- Do not use anti-inflammatory medications for two weeks after your procedure. Instead, use acetaminophen (Tylenol) to lower your pain.
- Minimize activity and ice the affected area for 15-20 minutes every 2-4 hours for the first few days after the injection.
- For 2 weeks after procedure, avoid strenuous activity and exercises at the site of the injection.
- The joint maybe immobilized by using a sling or walking boot for 2 weeks after your procedure.
- Physical therapy or rehabilitation exercise program is initiated 2 weeks after your procedure. Patients typically return to normal activity after about 6 weeks, this return to activity will be guided by your doctor and therapist.
Recovering from your PRP procedure
The first few days following the injection is known as the inflammatory phase. Some people may feel an increase in pain during this time. It may take 6-8 weeks to assess the body’s response to the treatment. Full recovery may take 3-6 months, with tendon injuries usually requiring a longer recovery time.
You will have a follow-up appointment with your provider at 6 weeks and 3 months to check your progress.
American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections
Sports Medicine Institute
Sports Medicine Today