DANIEL SOUTHERN, M.D.
REGENERATIVE ORTHOPEDICS & SPORTS MEDICINE

FAQs about Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)

PRP is a concentration of platelets, growth factors and cellular signaling factors that play a significant role in the biology of healing. It should also contain plasma proteins and proteases that work in a variety of ways to promote healing and prevent tissue degeneration. The therapeutic PRP dose delivers over 1 billion platelets per milliliter of treatment which represents a 4-6 fold increase in platelet concentration compared to whole blood. By enhancing the body’s natural healing capacity, this treatment has been shown to lead to a more rapid, more eff¬icient and more thorough restoration of the tissues to a healthy state.

After a blood sample is obtained from a patient, the blood is put into a centrifuge which separates the blood into its many components. Platelet rich plasma can then be collected and delivered to an injured area of bone or soft tissue, such as a tendon or ligament, via an injection. Ultrasound guidance can assist in the precise placement of PRP in a process that takes a total of 20-30 minutes. There may be soreness at the site of the injection that can last for a few days. Most people return to work and normal day to day activities immediately after the injection.

A local anesthetic is used during the PRP injection procedure. This results in minimal discomfort. Since PRP is prepared from your own blood, there is no risk of rejection or disease transmission and virtually no risk of infection.

There have been numerous clinical studies that show significant healing and long lasting reduction in pain for a variety of injuries. Common injuries include tendon and ligament damage, disc degeneration, sports injuries as well as joint pain and arthritis. Results are proving PRP to be an effective and natural alternative to steroid injections which temporarily help alleviate pain symptoms but do not heal the cause of your pain. In a small study involving knee osteoarthritis, PRP treatment was shown to be more effective than Hyaluronic Acid Viscosupplementation treatments. PRP may eliminate the need for more aggressive treatments such as long-term medication or surgery

A number of devices to concentrate PRP are available and vary in cost, process and performance. There are significant biological differences between PRP systems which may explain some variability in clinical outcomes, not to mention the variability in your own platelet count. A high quality PRP treatment requires:

  • A therapeutic dose of platelets greater than 1 billion platelets/milliliter
  • A high dose of growth factors released at the site of injury
  • A high platelet yield which recovers over 80% of platelets present in your blood
  • A PRP treatment that is “pure” and actually removes most red and white blood cells.

We use the EmCyte™ PRP system which delivers all of the above characteristics for the best possible outcome. Not all PRP is created equally.

Many patients achieve considerable to complete relief after the first PRP injection. In some cases, especially when the problem has been chronic, additional PRP injections may be necessary. Up to three injections may be given within a six month time frame. These are usually performed at 4-6 weeks apart, if needed.

Both ultrasound and MRI images have shown definitive tissue repair after PRP therapy actually confirming the healing process. The need for surgery can also be greatly reduced by treating injured tissue before the damage progresses and the condition is irreversible. PRP therapy does not provide immediate relief and instead, it sets in motion a repair mechanism that takes 2-3 weeks before pain relief is felt. A study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine showed the following results in patients with elbow tendinosis:
>46% pain relief by week 4
>60% pain relief by week 8
>81% pain relief by 6 months
At the conclusion of the study, 93% of patients were completely satisfied with their PRP treatment and had avoided surgery.

While PRP has been used for decades, often in professional athletes who are looking to avoid surgery or prolonged recovery periods, its application in the treatment of pain is relatively new. Because of this, most insurance companies do not currently cover PRP therapy. You should check with your individual insurer for coverage.

The cost of PRP treatment varies depending on the procedure performed. Our office staff can assist you with payment options and any other questions you may have.