Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been used for various medical purposes since the 1970s, though it has been in use for orthopedic conditions since the late 1990s. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding PRP.
PRP is a regenerative treatment that utilizes the patient’s own blood cells to direct healing into a specific area. PRP consists of two components: plasma, the liquid portion of blood, and platelets, a type of blood cell that plays a key role in the body’s healing process.
Once platelets are injected into an area, they begin to recognize damaged tissue, aggregate at these locations and then initiate a strong healing response (including stem cell recruitment). This results in tissue repair, decreased inflammation, and reduced pain.
Because PRP is not a drug, but a process that directs the body’s own healing response, it is currently being used to treat a wide range of conditions, including but not limited to the following:
- Meniscus tears
- Rotator cuff tears
- Labral tears
- Tennis/Golfer’s Elbow
- Joint sprains
- Muscle strains
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
PRP is considered a low-risk procedure since it is composed of the patient’s own blood cells. The most common side effects are soreness, warmth, and swelling at the injection site which may last a few days.
How Long Do the Injections Last?
According to current research, PRP is expected to last anywhere from 6-12 months. If being used to treat an acute condition (tendinitis, joint sprain, muscle strain, etc.), then full healing and resolution may be expected and repeat treatment will likely not be needed. If being used to treat a chronic condition such as osteoarthritis, repeat treatment may be needed when the effects of the initial treatment wear off.
Although PRP has been given clearance for use by the FDA, which allows providers to administer it as they see necessary, it has not yet been granted full approval by the FDA, which means that it is generally not covered by insurance or Medicare. As such, it is considered an out-of-pocket expense for the patient, though Health Savings Accounts (HSA) can be used to pay for the treatment.