Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is an increasingly popular treatment that helps a variety of conditions, including the treatment of injuries. Using blood cells from our bodies, we can add extra platelets to damaged areas, which speeds up the recovery process.
The body is very resilient and able to heal itself most of the time, but occasionally, it needs a little help. Platelet-Rich Plasma injections can provide a much needed boost to your body’s healing process. PRP injection cost ranges from $500 to $2,000 per injection, and most patients see positive, long term results after 2 or 3 injections.
As we grow older or when we become injured, our tissues, tendons, and ligaments do not heal as quickly as they used to. Inflammation can also cause all kinds of issues in the body and healing may not be as quick as it once was. If the damage is severe enough, healing may not be possible without some kind of treatment.
Platelet-Rich Plasma injections may be the answer. These treatments (also known as PRP injections) have been shown to provide a “jump start” to the body’s healing process. Over the past few years, studies have shown positive results for patients.
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
It is important to understand what platelets are. An entry from the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Health Encyclopedia defines platelets as: “tiny blood cells that help your body form clots to stop bleeding.” Platelets also have growth factors or proteins that can help promote the healing of injuries. The idea is that injecting a large concentration of platelets into a damaged area will accelerate the healing process.
Our blood components include white cells, red cells, platelets and plasma, among other proteins and nutrients. The platelets in our blood are the main ingredient in the healing process. They help our bodies develop scabs to heal our skin. Using a centrifuge, doctors can take a sample of blood and separate it, leaving the plasma (full of healing platelets) available for injection.
The Process of Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment
Receiving a treatment of platelet-rich plasma is fairly simple. Blood is taken from the patient, the platelet-rich plasma is separated from the blood and then, injected into the body where it is needed the most.
- First, a sample of blood is taken from the patient. Depending on the amount of platelets needed, a small vile or up to a pint of blood may be taken.
- Next, the blood is placed in a centrifuge device which allows for the blood to be separated into its various elements. Once separated, doctors can extract the plasma for injection.
- Finally, the PRP is injected. The plasma, full of healing platelets, is carefully injected into the body right where it is needed the most. Doctors use a precision needle and ultrasound technology to pinpoint the best place for the injection.
Over time, the platelets in the plasma go to work to promote healing of the muscle, tendon or ligament where they were injected. Typically, 5 to 10 times as many platelets will be injected compared to the number of platelets that are in the injured area. These high concentrations of platelets are the key to the healing process.
How does PRP work?
To begin the process, a medical professional will draw a blood sample from the patient. Using a specialized machine called a centrifuge, they separate the platelets from the rest of the blood components such as the red blood cells. At this point, the blood’s concentration of platelets is somewhere between 5 and 10 times greater than a typical blood sample.
The medical professional then uses this platelet-rich plasma to help the patient on their way to a speedy recovery. There are two primary ways methods of use:
- Injection: Injected PRP is a common way of dealing with localized injuries. When injecting, using imaging technology is extremely important to ensure that the patient receives the PRP where they need it. For instance, let’s say a patient is recovering from a severe muscle injury in their arm. The medical practitioner will locate the exact location, draw blood, run that through centrifugation, and inject it into the muscle tissue to aid the body in its recovery.
- Surgery: A more recent development in PRP therapy is its use during surgery, particularly to repair a soft tissue injury. For example you tear your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and need surgery. The recovery from an ACL tear can last longer than a year depending on the severity of the tear, so using PRP may speed up the tissue repair process. Instead of injections, you can actually have PRP integrated into the torn tissues during surgery. This will help the tissues heal at a faster rate. There has also been some experimentation with using PRP during surgeries for broken bones, but no conclusions have been made about its effectiveness.
Uses for PRP Injection Treatment
Patients of any age or stage of life can benefit from PRP injections. If someone has arthritis in their joints, inflammation anywhere in the body, or has been injured, PRP injections can assist the healing process. Knee pain, back pain and even hair loss can be treated with this regenerative treatment.
Degenerative diseases are a common reason for platelet-rich plasma injections. Wherever the body is losing tissue, the plasma can go to work to help the body heal itself.
Injuries are another common reason to use PRP for treatment. When athletes tear a major tissue or tendon in their bodies, the healing process can be slow. With PRP injections, healing is boosted at the source of the injury. Many professional athletes with sports injuries have reported great results and quicker recovery times due to PRP injections.
Platelet-rich plasma injections are still a fairly new and emerging treatment, but a few studies have been performed with great success.
The American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2013 reported that a study of 78 patients showed that PRP injections worked better for treating knee osteoarthritis compared to using saline injections, a more common treatment for the disease.
In 2014, the same journal reported on research performed on 28 athletes. This study showed that, after 3 treatments of PRP injections, symptoms of chronic patellar tendinopathy were greatly reduced.
In 2015, the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine reported on a 20-patient study that men with hair loss (a condition driven by inflammation of the hair follicles) experience more hair growth and significantly thicker hair than men who did not receive PRP injections.
PRP Injection FAQs
Contact a PRP Injection Treatment Expert
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is an emerging area of health science. As more studies are published, insurance carriers are likely to begin covering the cost of PRP injections in the future. If you’re looking to manage your inflammation or degenerative disease, PRP injections may be the treatment you need to heal.
Since research has not been able to undeniably verify PRP’s effectiveness, most medical insurance companies do not cover the treatment. However, at Arizona Pain and Spine Institute, we have seen firsthand the that the treatment can help speed the recovery process for a number of conditions.
If you are suffering in pain, platelet-rich plasma therapy may accelerate your recovery process. Schedule an appointment at Arizona Pain and Spine Institute today and find out if PRP injections are right for you. Our passionate team wants to help you recover and live pain free!