Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a treatment for various musculoskeletal injuries that utilizes the body’s own healing potential. The procedure is performed by drawing a patient’s blood, which is then spun down in a centrifuge to separate blood into layers. We use the layer that includes platelets, which we then inject into the site of injury. The platelets have growth factors involved in healing. PRP is most often used for tendon injuries (tendinopathies) and joint injury (cartilage thinning or osteoarthritis).
Patients may experience 2-7 days of pain after treatment and can be prescribed pain medication if needed. Patients need to rest for a few days or weeks after the treatment to avoid pushing the injected tissue too quickly. Typically, pain relief starts to occur within three to four weeks and continues to improve over a period of three to six months following an injection. The recovery time frame varies depending on the injury. Sometimes arthritic joints respond much faster to these injections than a patient being treated for tendonitis. Physical therapy is frequently recommended after PRP to help facilitate healing and good body mechanics. It may be recommended that this procedure be repeated to achieve an optimal clinical response. It is different for each patient and may be injury specific.
Risks are typical of any musculoskeletal injection, including pain (expected), infection and bleeding (rare). We perform this procedure using sterile technique. If the injection is done with ultrasound it is easier to avoid any vascular structures. Patients on blood thinners may experience a hematoma in the muscle, so consideration will be given to stopping these medications prior to a PRP injection. There is also risk that the injection will not work. We will work with you to discuss the appropriate situations for its use. Benefits include improvement of pain and function. The goal is often to return patients to physical activity.
PRP is rarely a paid benefit by health insurance. Our office will work with your insurance to find out if this is a covered benefit. Payment is expected on the day of the procedure.
Patients cannot take NSAID medications for 2 weeks before and 6 weeks after the PRP procedure. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), aspirin, meloxicam, diclofenac, celecoxib (Celebrex) or similar. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be used as an alternative. We recommend taking 1000 mg of acetaminophen 1 hour before the procedure to make post-procedure pain more tolerable. Hydrate well; drinking lots of water or other fluids before the procedure makes the blood draw easier.
Because we are using your blood as the treatment, we want it to be as healthy as possible for optimal outcomes. Eating well for a few weeks before PRP is recommended, particularly following an anti-inflammatory diet (low carbohydrate or gluten free). This diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (like beans and nuts), fatty fish, and fresh herbs and spices.