I wanted to answer some questions that I am hearing from patients and help getting some reliable information out in the community.
One of those questions is what is PRP? So PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma, and what this is it’s a technique where a medical provider draws a blood sample from a patient. We put it into a centrifuge and spin it down. We harvest some of those healing properties that your body produces on a regular basis so that we can target those proteins back into an area that is diseased or damaged. A lot of times this is something that’s used for things like rotator cuff tears, tennis elbow, early stages of arthritis, things along those lines that can be influenced in a positive way and offers another treatment option for patients aside from the kind of age-old, tested cortisone injection.
A lot of patients come in and they ask is PRP really effective? Does it really work? Maybe they had a neighbor, or they had a friend who had a PRP injection performed, and some people had a good outcome. Some people didn’t have a good outcome or a good experience. The thing to keep in mind is that when you’re looking at medical treatments in general, especially from a surgical practice standpoint or that of orthopedics, not every treatment option is indicated for each patient. It’s not a one size fits all approach in a lot of these scenarios. And when you’re talking about conservative measures or things that don’t relate to surgery, in this perspective, you have to kind of take that into account.
PRP can be very highly effective for certain diagnoses, and it really depends on what you’re using it to treat. It’s not necessarily that it’s not an effective treatment. It can be ineffective if it’s used for the wrong thing. But I think that, in general, it’s a worthwhile discussion to have with your medical provider. And if you have questions, I’d love for you to come in. Talk to me about it so we can go over your imaging and come up with a treatment plan. And if that includes PRP, we can have that discussion so that you feel like you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
One of the other questions that we get asked is how long does a PRP injection last? And this is something that we see asked frequently as well when we’re talking about using cortisone injections. And again, it kind of depends on what this is being used for. In general terms, PRP is a little bit different than a cortisone injection, which is an anti-inflammatory. PRP is also working as an anti-inflammatory but also has some biological properties that can hopefully help stimulate or improve your body’s ability to heal itself.
When we talk about PRP, if it’s applied in the right situation, in the right setting, we’re hoping to actually stimulate a healing response. Whereas the cortisone just decreases your body’s inflammatory response to a problem that’s already there. The way to think about that long-term is with PRP, and the goal is not necessarily just to manage symptoms but to help you gain a long-term improvement of your symptoms without requiring a surgical procedure.
The other question that we get in regards to PRP revolves around whether or not insurance companies cover these treatments. And the short answer to that is at this point, most medical insurances are not covering PRP or other stem cell types of therapies. So, patients have to take that into consideration when they’re making decisions about whether they want to pursue PRP injections or using that as a treatment option for them based on their financial situation and their ability to pay out of pocket for some of those treatment. As most of the time, their insurance is not covering it at this time.
When patients are making the decision whether or not PRP or similar therapies are right for them, it’s important to have a conversation with your medical provider regarding those costs associated with the treatment as most patients are going to be providing that cost out of their own pocket. Please refer to our website. Have a discussion with us to go over the pricing options. And we’d be more than happy to help you navigate some of those decisions as you seek to understand all of those different options that are available to treat your medical condition.
In general terms, PRP or platelet-rich plasma injections are very similar to a cortisone injection from a patient perspective. People complain of injection site pain similar to when you get a flu vaccine or another cortisone injection. We do this under sterile technique in the office. We use a topical anesthetic spray to help with a little bit of lessening of the discomfort if you will. And most of the time we’re doing these injections under ultrasound guidance. So the injection is a very targeted procedure, and that seems to help eliminate a lot of the discomfort that patients have because we’re being very methodical about our approach. And most people tolerate it very well.
I hope this information has been helpful when it comes to evaluating whether or not PRP is a valid treatment option for you. If you feel that you would be a candidate for PRP injections, or you have more questions, please feel free to call and schedule a consultation with me in my office. I’d love to go over your imaging studies and have a conversation with you regarding PRP and whether or not it would be effective in helping you treat your medical condition. And I look forward to seeing you in our office.