What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
Clearwater, Tampa, St Petersburg, Florida
Platelet-rich plasma or PRP is derived from the patient’s blood. Processing the patient’s blood specimen in a centrifuge separates the blood components and concentrates the platelets in the plasma. The concentrated platelets found in PRP are rich in growth factors along with bioactive proteins that are vital to initiate and accelerate tissue repair and regeneration. These bioactive proteins increase stem cell production to initiate connective tissue healing, bone regeneration and repair, promote development of new blood vessels, and stimulate the wound healing process.
Tendons connect muscle to bone, making it possible for joints to flex and our bodies to move. Overuse or damage to the tendon over a long period causes the collagen fibers in the tendons to form small tears, a condition called tendonitis. Damage to tendons most often occurs in the knees, ankles, hips, spine, elbows, shoulders and wrists – the joints that move the most.
Ligaments are composed of collagen fibers that hold one bone to another, stabilizing the joint and controlling the range of motion. When a ligament is damaged, it is no longer able to stabilize the bones in the joint, which often leads to pain. This instability does not always show up on high tech imaging equipment. During a thorough evaluation, Dr. Lox can determine which ligaments and tendons are unstable due to injury, wear or tear.
Tendons and ligaments have a poor blood supply and when damaged, they do not usually heal well. Combined with the stress of daily activity, tendons and ligaments become inefficient, causing degeneration of the joint, leading to chronic pain and weakness.
For many people, cortisone or steroid injections provide temporary relief from pain and inflammation, but may not provide long term healing. Studies have shown that long-term cortisone injections may actually weaken tissue. The healing and growth factors present in PRP heal and strengthen damaged tendons and ligaments. The results of a double-blind randomized controlled trial conducted in the Netherlands with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) versus corticosteroid injection for the treatment of lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) after a 1-year followup, revealed a more positive effect with PRP therapy than the corticosteroid group.
Patients may see a significant improvement in symptoms, as well as a remarkable return of function. This may eliminate the need for more aggressive treatments such as long-term medication use or surgery.
While response to the therapy will vary, some people may require 2-5 injections. Each injection is spaced approximately four to six weeks apart. There is no limit to the number of treatments a person can have. The risks and side effects do not change with the number of injections.
If you have a tendon or ligament injury, or degenerated joints and traditional methods have not provided lasting relief, then PRP therapy may be the solution. The procedure is less aggressive and less expensive than surgery. It may heal tissue with minimal or no scarring, and may alleviate further degeneration of the tissues. Dr. Lox will discuss all of your treatment options, including if PRP is a viable option for your condition.
Patients with active cancers and/or infections. If you have a history of cancer, many times you can utilize PRP injections, but the ultimate decision maker should be your oncologist.
Anyone who consistently uses blood-thinning medications, such Coumadin or Warfain; we require their suspension three days before the injection.
PRP therapy may help to heal tendons and ligaments, but it is not a quick fix. This therapy is stimulating the growth of new tissue, requiring time and rehabilitation. Under Dr. Lox’s supervision, patients will begin an exercise program following the first procedure. During the treatment process, most people are able to resume normal activities and exercise.
Although platelet-rich plasma has been used in surgeries since the early 1990s, and despite the publicized success some professional athletes have had with PRP, most insurance companies, including Medicare, view the prhasocedure as “experimental and investigational” and therefore do not cover the service nor reimburse for it. Financing arrangements can be made if needed.
If you would like to see if PRP is a viable option for your condition, schedule an appointment with Dr. Lox by calling 727-462-5582.
Dennis M. Lox, MD, and the Florida Spine Center serve patients within the greater Tampa Bay area, including Clearwater, Tampa and St. Petersburg, as well as all of Florida and the US.
Patients scheduled for PRP therapy are restricted from the use of nonblood-thinning medications, such Coumadin or Warfain three days prior to the procedure. If you have a question about one of your medications, you can check with your pharmacist or call us. Initially the procedure may cause some localized soreness and discomfort at the injection site. Most patients only require some extra-strength Tylenol to help with the pain. Ice may be applied to the area as needed.