FAQs on Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy in California
One of the most exciting advancements in regenerative medicine is platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. The PRP is given by injection, which allows the reintroduction of the body’s own stem cells and growth factors. PRP has the ability to regenerate damaged and injured tissues.
What exactly is PRP?
PRP is plasma with a high platelet count. The plasma represents more than half the total blood volume, and it is a straw-colored liquid that contains hormones, proteins, minerals, clotting factors, and immunoglobulins.
How is PRP obtained?
Platelet-rich plasma is removed from the patient by drawing blood from an arm vein. The blood is placed in a centrifuge, which is a machine that spins around and separates the plasma from the rest of the blood. The plasma contains a high concentration of platelets and growth factors.
How does PRP work?
To facilitate tissue repair, the PRP with growth factors and stem cells regenerate damaged tissues. PRP works by bringing in cells inside the body that will differentiate into cartilage, ligament, tendon or other parts.
What are the indications for platelet-rich plasma therapy?
PRP is used to treat various joint injuries and damage. Ligament and tendon injuries benefit because these structures often have limited blood supply. In addition, PRP injections can be used for inflammatory arthritis conditions. The most common indications for PRP are:
- Medial epicondylitis
- Lateral epicondylitis
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer’s elbow
- Ligament injuries
- Tendon tears
- Joint damage
- Achilles’ tendonitis
- Runner’s knee
How is the PRP procedure performed?
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is an outpatient procedure. First, a nurse will obtain 30-60 milliliters of blood from the arm vein. Then, the blood is placed in a centrifuge and spun to separate the plasma from other blood components. The top layer is then separated and spun again in the centrifuge. After the PRP solution is ready, the damaged or injured area is injected with the PRP under real-time x-ray (fluoroscopy).
Is PRP covered by health insurance?
At present, PRP injections are not reimbursable through insurance. However, the cost of PRP injections is reasonable considering the many benefits.
What are the risks and benefits of PRP therapy?
The risks associated with PRP treatment are low. The blood comes from the patient’s own body so there is no risk of rejection. In addition, there is minimal risk for infection or complications. One of the benefits of PRP is delayed need for surgical intervention. PRP therapy also helps relieve pain, improve functional ability, and improves body structure strength.
What is the success rate of PRP therapy?
Many studies are showing that PRP therapy improves patient outcomes. In a study of chronic proximal hamstring tendinopathies, researchers evaluated the efficacy of PRP injections. They found that the success rate was 80% at six month follow-up.
The researchers concluded that PRP injections were safe and beneficial for treating hamstring tendinopathy. In another study out of the Netherlands, PRP injections were proven more effective than corticosteroid injections for the treatment of chronic tennis elbow. In this study, the efficacy rate was 73%.
Fader RR, Mitchell JJ, Traub S (2014). Platelet-rich plasma treatment improves outcomes for chronic proximal hamstring injuries in an athletic population. Muscles, Ligaments, and Tendons, 4(4), 461-466.