Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)

What is PRP or Platelet-Rich Plasma treatment?

Your blood contains cells and proteins that are essential for natural healing.  PRP red-blood-cellsis a mix of concentrated platelets and serum.  When an injury occurs, platelets help form a blood clot to stop bleeding and coordinate the healing process by secreting various growth factors at different times.  This allows a “time-released” growth factor healing process which stimulates new cell growth, restores blood flow and regenerates injured tissue.

PRP has been used for over 20 years in dental, plastic and oral surgeries to aid in injury recovery.  PRP has been effective for treating painful musculoskeletal injuries.  Many professional athletes have used PRP treatments including Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers prior to winning Super Bowl XLIII.  Tiger Woods also received four treatments following knee surgery.  Tennis star Rafael Nadal has also used PRP therapy.

Am I a candidate for PRP treatment?

Patients with discomfort in the joints, muscles, tendons, and some spine conditions may be candidates for PRP therapy.

How is the PRP solution prepared?

To create your PRP preparation, the doctor draws your blood and concentrates the platelets.  The platelets may be processed further to access growth factors.   The PRP solution is injected into the injured site with the aid of ultrasound or fluoroscopy.  PRP can also be administered topically or even inhaled.

xraysHow does the PRP work?

The PRP solution contains growth factors, cytokines, and proteins that stimulate new cell growth, restore blood flow, and regenerate injured tissue.  Patients may see a significant reduction in pain and improvement in function following PRP treatments.

How long does the treatment take?

Following a physician examination, the PRP procedure can take less than 30 minutes.

How will I feel after a PRP treatment?

Recovery is minimal (days) compared with surgery and rehabilitation.  Pain medication is not typically needed.  Most patients describe a gradual improvement in initial weeks, with an increase in function and ability to participate in more activities after four to six weeks. Pain relief and increased stability occurs over a period of months.

How many injections will I need?

Every patient and condition is unique.  Most patients benefit from 1 to 3 treatments to get the results they want.  Injections are usually spread out by about a month each.

What are the risks of PRP treatment?

The risks are minimal.  By injecting your own cells, the chance of side effects or immunologic reaction is virtually eliminated.  It is not uncommon for patients to experience mild to moderate discomfort after the procedure.

Why isn’t PRP treatment covered by insurance?

PRP therapy is a relatively new form of treatment and has not yet been studied extensively.  Initial research has demonstrated excellent safety and effectiveness of the procedure.  And in the case of tennis elbow, PRP has been shown to be far more effective than steroid injection.  However, there are several forms of PRP, different methods of producing it, and PRP might be effective for many different kinds of medical conditions.  Therefore, the amount of research required does not yet fulfill most insurance company needs.  As a result, insurance companies consider PRP therapy as  “investigational” at this time.  As the quality of research progresses, insurance companies will eventually cover this treatment.

 Establishing a correct diagnosis, excellent preparation and precise administration of PRP using advanced imaging technique is absolutely crucial to assure the best possible outcome.  San Diego Center of Regenerative Medicine physicians have a combined experience that ranks on a national level.  Having performed thousands of injections, they are dedicated to providing outstanding care while advancing the art and science of regenerative medicine.

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The information on this site is solely for purposes of general patient education, and may not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical care. Physician consultation is required for evaluation and treatment of your specific condition.