What is a PRP injection?
Pain can be so debilitating that it typically leads patients to consider invasive surgery. However, there is a procedure that allows certain patients to forgo surgery while achieving pain relief. PRP injection is a fairly simple outpatient treatment. While it has been in the news recently for its use in orthopedic sports medicine, PRP is used by every type of patient.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is blood plasma with concentrated platelets, bioactive proteins, cytokines, and other growth factors that accelerate the healing process of bone and soft tissue. The various growth factors in platelet-rich plasma send signals to the body to initiate growth and stem cell repair in the area of injury. While PRP works well on its own, even some surgeons are now using regenerative medicine for surgical recovery. This option improves the healing times of their patients and thus improves the surgical progress.
What does PRP Injection Entail?
A normal injection begins by collecting a blood sample from the patient. In order to separate the platelet-rich plasma from the other components of whole blood, the blood sample is then placed in a centrifuge. This will separate the various layers of blood, such as white and red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. The platelet-rich section (orange in the picture to the right) is removed from the rest of the contents. Once the centrifuge is complete, the doctor, often using ultrasound as guidance for accuracy, will administer the PRP injection into the site of the injury.
In it’s entirety, the procedure shouldn’t take any longer than 30 minutes or so. Given the severity of the injury your physician may suggest more injections at a later date.
Is PRP Therapy Safe?
This question comes up a lot and thankfully we can write that yes PRP is safe to use. In fact, we wrote an entire blog post dedicated to answering this question. However, to briefly surmise why it is safe we will give you some of the facts.
PRP injections have very few side effects. Since the procedure consists entirely of the patient’s blood, they should have no reaction to it. While a relatively moderate amount of rest is needed immediately following the treatment, the patient should be ready to perform normal daily functions shortly after. Depending on the severity of the injury and the patient’s age and health, your specialist may recommend a progressive stretching and strengthening program.
Who has used PRP injection?
PRP therapy is a proven non-surgical alternative for many different injuries and patients. In 2009, PRP began to find traction in mass media. With the New York Times writing about the treatment, a slew of professional and amateur athletes turned their attention to regenerative medicine. The following is a short list of athletes known to use PRP (notice the variety in sports):
- Steph Curry (NBA)
- Brandon Roy (NBA)
- Tiger Woods (Golf)
- Michelle Wie (Golf)
- Alex Rodriguez (MLB)
- Chris Capuano (MLB)
- John Terry (Chelsea F.C.)
- Rafael Nadal (Tennis)
- Daniel Cormier (UFC)
- Daron Rahlves (Olympic Skier)
The New Yorker has reported it as being a “procedure [that] can repair chronic tendon injuries, heal damaged muscles and ligaments, and reduce arthritis pain.” Meanwhile, medical experts suggest that PRP may markedly improve treatment for stubborn injuries such as biceps tear and knee tendinitis for all athletes. Remember though, you do not have to be a world-class athlete to receive PRP therapy.
Is PRP injection right for me?
According to Emory University, “PRP therapy is advised for patients with moderate osteoarthritis in the hip, knee, shoulder, or chronic tendonitis in the elbow or ankle.”
While this may come about from sports, it is also possible to come from the aging process and general wear and tear.
Patients should consider PRP therapy if they have been diagnosed with any of the following:
- ACL Tear
- Knee Pain
- Hip Pain
- Neck Pain
- Shoulder Pain
- Back Pain
- Low Back Pain
- Upper Back Pain
Does PRP therapy consist of one injection or multiple injections?
This is ultimately decided on a case-by-case basis. The physician will use an MRI or Ultrasound result to determine the number of injections. Typically, the physician will suggest between 1 to 3 injections.
Will I feel immediate results from PRP injection?
There is a general consensus in the medical field that it is common for patients to experience soreness at the site of injection up to about a week after the procedure. Typically, platelet-rich plasma heals the injected area over a span of one to three months time. However, these results will vary on a patient-to-patient basis.
It is important to note that while some may think cortisone injections are similar to PRP, they are actually quite different. Cortisone simply masks inflammation and has no healing capabilities, while PRP, if successful, generally results in long-lasting relief.
If you are thinking of having a surgical procedure done, please contact us for an evaluation and the potential non-surgical alternatives that may be right for you. Similarly, if you’d like to find out if PRP therapy is an option to help relieve your chronic pain condition or to speed up the healing time from a recent injury, please give us a call at 201-729-0001 for a consultation. Our conveniently located clinics can be found in West Orange, Aberdeen, Lyndhurst, and Fort Lee.