Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)

Were you aware that the human body is made to heal itself? If not, think again because it is!

Yes, your body can heal arthritis without too much intervention of drugs and surgery. How you say? With Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy (as one choice), without cortisone shots. Cortisone shots have a short term advantage, but long term cortisone is not a choice I would even consider, due to the probability of long term damage to cartilage, ligaments and bone.

This is a very brief overview of PRP and how it can help your body heal.

Using PRP therapy, you are using your own bodies blood to help with the healing process. The blood is extracted from your body, centrifuged to separate the red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and platelets.  The plasma then contains approximately 5 to 10 times greater (richer) platelets than normal which will then be injected back into the body with a higher concentration of platelets to combine with the remaining blood in the area to help it heal.

Just so you know, right up front, this is not a “one shot deal” as several treatments are likely to be done to achieve the results you are looking for. But, this is one example of how your body is meant to heal itself, without pharmaceutical intervention, without NSAIDs, or without surgery to correct the problem. Wish I had known about this five years ago and I wouldn’t have had my hip replacement done! However, that is water under the bridge and can’t be changed, but now that I know, I will definitely go another route if need be in future.

How does it work? Well, your body has something called growth factors that go to work on the injection site to help speed up the healing process. So for arthritis in a knee, wrist, hip, etc., it would be injected into the problem area and start its healing right away. Scientists are not sure just how that happens being you have the blood in your body already and why isn’t it doing its job, but they will figure it out someday. In the meantime, this procedure has been around for a very long time and is being used quite successfully. It is only recently that doctors and patients have been given the opportunity to use this treatment as a relatively common practice. The process is done in one visit as it only takes about 20 minutes to prepare the blood for injection. The entire process will take place over time when the patient will be seen by the doctor every 4-6 weeks per treatment to ensure the PRP has time to develop new cartilage/tendon to help with the joint being affected. As I mentioned the procedure may have to be done a few times to accomplish the growth that is needed to prevent further pain. However, when the treatments are done it includes the number of treatments being provided. At a cost of between $500 and $1,200 USD (according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) depending on the treatment being given, it really isn’t that expensive, compared to Stem Cell therapy! In Canada, the cost is approximately $400-$600 per injection site per treatment and is not normally covered by insurance. Unfortunately, in the USA these treatments are also not covered by insurance companies yet as they are still considered experimental, even though they have been around for decades!

PRP can be used to treat a number of issues including hair loss, tendon injuries (rotator cuff), acute sports injuries (hamstring, knee sprains), post-surgical repair (torn tendons, ligaments or muscles), osteoarthritis (knees, hips, ankles, wrists), during surgery to help tissues heal, fractures to help speed the healing of broken bones, and probably more. It was found that PRP was more effective than hyaluronic acid injections as PRP will actually produce tissue where the hyaluronic acid doesn’t.

What are the risks? Apparently the risks are minimal with possible temporary increased pain at the injection site, but infection, tissue damage, nerve injuries are no different than those associated with cortisone injections.

If you, or someone you know, are suffering from pain anywhere in your body related to joint, muscle, tendon, or ligament problems, consider talking to your health care team about PRP therapy. Even with the cost, it’s something to look into to see if it’s right for you.

Have a fantastic day and week ahead.