Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy – A New Cutting Edge Procedure
History of Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) is a technique to aid healing and regeneration. This technique was first used in open heart surgery in 1987.1 It has since been applied to many different medical fields such as cosmetic surgery, dentistry, sports medicine and pain management. PRP Therapy became more widely known in 2009 after media reports that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward had a knee injury treated with PRP in the weeks before the Super Bowl.
How does it work?
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy begins with a small amount of blood being drawn from the patient receiving the treatment. The patient’s blood is placed in a centrifuge that spins the blood, separating it into different layers. The top layer contains only plasma; red blood cells concentrate in the bottom layer. In between those two layers, the middle layer contains a high concentration of platelets. Platelets are best known for their role in closing wounds, but they also contain a variety of growth factors and proteins that the body uses in repairing injuries. This middle layer, known as platelet rich plasma or PRP, is separated from the rest of the blood and then injected into the patient at site of their injury or degeneration. Injecting a high concentration of platelets, growth factors and proteins directly to that site enables the patient’s body to heal injuries or degeneration more effectively. PRP Therapy is often done as a series of treatments in order to extend the healing effect.
We are offering PRP Therapy at a subsidized rate through research studies. One study will assess the efficacy of this treatment in alleviating the pain caused by degeneration of joints in the lower back. Another study will measure the efficacy of PRP Therapy for treating degeneration of joints of the upper and lower extremities (e.g., shoulders, elbows, hips, knees). Patients qualifying for one of these studies will receive a substantial reduction in the treatment price, as the Arizona Pain Stem Cell Institute is subsidizing the price for the purpose of the study. Patients’ pain scores, activities of daily living and medication usage will be assessed both before treatment and over the six months after treatment.
Risks and Complications
Because PRP Therapy uses the patient’s own blood, it avoids risks related to donor compatibility and the rejection of cells. However, like any injection therapy, there are risks associated with the injection, including irritation or pain at the injection site or possibly infection. Discuss these with your healthcare provider prior to getting this procedure.
What should you expect?
PRP Therapy is based on enhancing the body’s ability to heal and regenerate tissues. Nonetheless, patients should expect results to take some time. Furthermore, as with any treatment for pain, not every patient will have success with this treatment. However, research has found it to be effective in treating some conditions. For example, one study delivered PRP injections to patients suffering from chronic degeneration of the knees.2 This study found that patients had significantly reduced pain, increased knee function and improved quality of life.
Who can benefit from this treatment?
Based on studies such as this, we believe PRP can be effective for treating degenerative conditions of the joints, such as osteoarthritis or chondral lesions. Patients diagnosed with one of these conditions in joints, such as the shoulders, elbows, lower back, hips or knees may benefit from this treatment. We recommend that patients pursue this treatment only if they continue to experience pain after trying conservative treatments such as rest, physical therapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ibuprofen).
- Ferrari M, Zia S, Valbonesi M. A new technique for hemodilution, preparation of autologous platelet-rich plasma and intraoperative blood salvage in cardiac surgery. Int J Artif Organs. 1987;10:47–50.
- Filardo G, Kon E, Buda R, et al. Platelet-rich plasma intra-articular knee injections for the treatment of degenerative cartilage lesions and osteoarthritis. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2011;19:528-535.