Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections are a regenerative therapy that is used to treat many chronic and acute musculoskeletal injuries. PRP is a concentration of platelets, growth factors and stem cells derived from your own blood to help the body’s own healing capabilities. These compounds are important in attracting other cells that aid in healing, stimulating new blood vessel formation, and promoting regeneration of damaged tissue. Processing the blood into PRP results in a high concentration of these factors, which helps create an influx of healing compounds to regenerate damaged tissue, decrease inflammation, and promote natural healing. Tendons and ligaments have poor vasculature by nature and can therefore take longer to heal than tissue with good blood supply. Platelet Rich Plasma circumvents that issue and helps those areas to heal faster.
What are Platelets?
Platelets are one type of cell found in blood that have many functions, including helping blood clot, providing a ‘scaffold’ for tissue healing when injured, and producing ‘growth factors’ that help the body heal itself from injury. Processing the blood into PRP results in a high concentration of these growth factors and platelets. Thus, when PRP is injected into the damaged tissue, an influx of healing compounds helps the regeneration of damaged tissue.
Common conditions treated with PRP Injections
PRP is used for a variety of acute and chronic joint, tendon and ligament injuries. If you unsure if your condition or injury can be treated with a PRP injection then feel free to ask your healthcare practitioner or naturopathic doctor during your next visit.
How does this differ from a corticosteroid injection?
Corticosteroid injections can provide a strong and immediate relief of inflammation and pain, along with some potential for side effects. In contrast, using your own Platelet Rich Plasma has the added benefit of regeneration, resulting in stimulating the body’s immune response. While PRP is a slower process for pain management, it has longer term benefits compared to corticosteroid injections, without the potential side effects of corticosteroids.
Are PRP Injections guided by Ultrasound?
Yes! Ultrasound guided injections offer a precise and accurate administration of any injection to the damaged tissue. Research has shown that using an ultrasound guided injection improves outcomes by allowing a more precise injection to the desired target (joint, tendon, ligament, bursa, fascia, labrum, meniscus, etc.). We offer advanced image guided injection in our clinic and we recommend that this be done for all injections to improve outcomes.
How many PRP Injections are required?
The frequency of PRP treatment varies from person to person. After an initial PRP treatment, your physician will likely schedule a two-week follow-up visit to evaluate your healing progress. While some patients respond rapidly in one treatment, others may require additional PRP treatments to aid in the healing process. The majority of patients require 2-6 sets of injections at a 4-6 week interval.
How long can I expect before I can see the benefits from a PRP injection?
Platelet Rich Plasma is a regenerative treatment, therefore requiring multiple treatments for an extended period of time. The amount of time until a patient sees benefits varies from weeks to months. Factors on patient response include: the concentration and number of PRP treatments, patient’s medical co-morbidities, condition being treated, and the patients general health. On average, we find that most patients show improvement after 3 – 4 months from the first treatment.
How long does the effect from PRP last?
This is different for everyone. Outcomes largely depend on the underlying disease process and whether there has been a recurrent injury to the affected area. Due to these factors, it is difficult to assess if and when further treatments will be needed. In some cases, patients do come back months or years later for repeat PRP injections.
What are the possible side effects?
As with any type of injection there is a small risk of infection, injury to blood vessels, nerves, tendons, and/or ligament, and a small risk of bleeding / bruising. Many patients will experience increased pain or discomfort for a short time following the treatment. If you are sick, discuss this with a physician before considering this treatment. If you have inflammatory arthritis that is currently active, PRP injection should be delayed until the inflammatory process is under control.
Should I stop or continue taking NSAIDs?
If you take any NSAID or Steroid on a regular basis, refrain from use 4 – 6 weeks prior to PRP treatment and hold off until PRP treatment is completed. If you take any NSAID or Steroid on a non-regular basis, it maybe fine to continue taking it as needed. Ask your physician about your particular situation.
Disclaimer: Platelet Rich Plasma is typically not covered by extended health benefits. If your insurance plan has a ‘health spending account,’ then those funds can be used to cover your treatment.