What Is PRP Therapy? What You Need to Know
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Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy has become increasingly popular to treat various sports-related injuries, dermatological symptoms, hair loss, and other musculoskeletal conditions. PRP injections use the patient’s own blood cells to improve healing to a targeted area of the body.
The following information on PRP therapy is meant to be a guide to help you learn the ins and outs of this innovative treatment plan.
What Is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy?
To better understand PRP therapy, one must know what platelet-rich plasma is.
Platelet-rich plasma contains special proteins that allow blood to clot and stimulate growth for cell reproduction and tissue regeneration. Essentially, platelet-rich plasma has more platelets, or growth factors, than what’s typical, giving it accelerated healing capabilities.
Medical researchers can generate PRP for treatment therapies by isolating the plasma from the blood. They do this by collecting a blood sample from the patient and spinning it in a centrifuge device.
Once clinicians create the platelet-rich plasma, they can inject the solution into the injured or targeted area of the body. Depending on the injection location, some providers may use ultrasound as a guide.
Although PRP therapy isn’t an approved treatment by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), several studies have shown that PRP injections may shorten the recovery time for various injuries, reduce swelling, encourage hair growth, and provide pain relief.
What Is PRP Therapy Used For?
Medical researchers have been testing PRP therapy to heal various injuries and conditions, including:
- Musculoskeletal injuries: PRP injections may support treatment of tendon or muscular pain, such as tennis elbow or Achilles tendonitis, in addition to sports-related injuries like knee sprains.
- Hair loss: Injections have been effective in hair regrowth, preventing further hair loss and treating androgenic alopecia.
- Postsurgical recovery: PRP injections can shorten recovery times after tendon and ligament surgeries.
- Osteoarthritis: Early studies show that PRP therapy can relieve osteoarthritis pain by reducing inflammation and strengthening the joint area.
What Are the Benefits of PRP Therapy?
There are several benefits of receiving PRP therapy as a regenerative medical treatment. PRP injections are typically administered using local anesthesia, not general anesthesia, and are considered minimally invasive, outpatient procedures.
Additional benefits of PRP injections include faster recovery times, reduced swelling and bruising, and pain relief.
PRP therapy is a natural treatment where the body can harness its own healing powers. Because PRP involves a patient’s own blood cells, there is little risk for an allergic reaction or the body’s rejection of the treatment.
How Much Does PRP Therapy Cost?
The costs of PRP therapy vary depending on the location, medical facilities, and the physician’s expertise in administering the injection.
Patients are typically required to pay approximately $500-$2,500 for a single treatment. Keep in mind that patients usually need more than one injection.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, PRP treatment is considered an experimental therapy requiring more research to prove its effectiveness. Although current studies have shown PRP’s efficacy in clinical trials, it is not FDA-approved. For this reason, PRP tends to be a costly out-of-pocket treatment not covered by insurance.
What Are the Side Effects of PRP Therapy?
While the risks of developing an allergic reaction or rejecting PRP are low, there are a few potential side effects to know about from the injection itself.
Patients receiving PRP therapy should be aware of the following:
- Nerve pain and injury
- Swelling or pain at the injection site
- Tissue impairment
You and your physician should discuss these risks and the different ways you can minimize them while receiving treatment.
What Is the Recovery Time for PRP?
Patients who receive PRP therapy can usually resume most of their daily activities after receiving an injection. However, if your doctor is treating an injury, they may recommend resting the area for some time to aid in the healing process.
In most situations, you may be given temporary restrictions for post-injection recovery depending on location:
- Arm, wrist, or shoulder: Your physician may limit what you can grasp or pull, or how much weight you can carry.
- Lower-body (hip, knee, ankle, foot): Restrictions may require you to limit movement or stay off your feet for a day.
Additionally, you will likely be unable to drive for 24 hours after receiving anesthesia or narcotic pain drugs.
Recovery time looks different for everyone. Some patients may experience immediate relief from pain following PRP injections, while others may notice a difference after several weeks or months. Regardless, the targeted area may experience rapid healing and faster hair growth than it would have without PRP treatment.
While additional studies are required to understand PRP’s effectiveness as a standardized treatment option, medical researchers suggest it is a capable treatment for hair loss and other muscular and dermatological conditions.
Because PRP therapy is not FDA-approved, patients may find their out-of-pocket costs prohibitive if multiple injections are needed.