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When it comes to bone or soft tissue injury, recent research reveals that the sooner you treat it, the faster you’ll recover. Studies show that the onset of initial inflammation causes an increase in cell production in the body—a phenomenon called cell proliferation.
One well-known medical application of cell proliferation is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP). Because of the boost it offers the healing process, PRP has been in the media repeatedly as its popularity among professional athletes continues to grow.
PRP: What Is It?
PRP is produced from your own blood. Your doctor will obtain a small amount of blood from your arm by doing a blood draw. The blood will be spun briefly in a centrifuge to separate out a specific part of the blood called a “platelet”. Platelets contain growth factors, which are essential to speeding up the body’s natural healing process.
These cells are then injected into the area of tissue damage, often with ultrasound to ensure accurate placement of the injection. The ultrasound is not painful.
How Effective is PRP?
When is PRP Right for You?
PRP is most often used for tendon, ligament, muscle, cartilage, and joint injuries. Typically, PRP injection will be considered if symptoms of pain or disability persist beyond 6 months, despite the use of other treatments such as anti-inflammatories, pain medication, bracing, therapeutic exercise programs (physical therapy or occupational therapy), ice/heat packs, and/or corticosteroid injections.
For some, PRP injection may help avoid or delay surgery.
Is PRP Safe?
Because the blood is your own, there is no risk that your body will reject the cells being injected. Also, the use of ultrasound to guide the needle helps to minimize the risk of unwanted needle trauma to nearby tissues.
While the typical risks of any injection procedure still apply, including pain, bleeding, and infection, it is regarded as a very safe procedure.
Is the Injection Painful?
Compared to other injections you may have experienced, the PRP injection is considered by most patients to be painful.
Why? Because local anesthetics are often avoided with PRP injection, as they can interfere with the results of PRP.
- You will likely feel more pain both during and immediately after the injection.
- After the procedure, the injected area may be painful or uncomfortable for about 5 days, and you may be reluctant to use the limb.
- The increased cellular activity from the injection may bring more swelling and inflammation at the injection site for the first week. This reaction is normal and the intended effect of the injection.
- Any pain should lessen after the first week, and you will then be able to begin your exercise program.
Paying for PRP Therapy
Since PRP injection is considered a newer medical technique, most insurance companies do not cover the cost. Because we want you to have access to this procedure, a significant discount is offered to patients who pay for the procedure “out-of-pocket” at time of service. Please contact us to discuss costs before booking the procedure to avoid any confusion or concern on your end.
Since pain is expected, pain medication will be prescribed for use during the first week after your injection. Using a heating pad on the injected area may also bring relief. Your doctor will educate you on how best to manage any discomfort.
What to Avoid
Avoid the treatment options below as they may lessen the effect of your PRP injection:
- For the week before and six weeks after your injection, avoid “NSAID” or “anti-inflammatory” drugs such as aspirin, Bayer, ibuprofen, Motrin, naproxen, Aleve, Advil, meloxicam, Mobic, celecoxib, Celebrex, Voltaren, Flector, steroids, and others.
- Avoid the use of ice packs for six weeks after your injection. Contact your doctor with questions.
What to Expect Afterwards
After your PRP injection, your first priority will be rest and healing. Here’s what happens next:
- In a couple of weeks, you will begin gentle exercise to get the best results as you recover. These may be provided to you as a handout or your doctor may refer you to a physical/occupational therapist.
- Depending on the location of your injection, you may need to wear a brace after the injection as determined by your doctor.
- Your doctors will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your healing process.