FAQs on Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy in Nashville

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is an increasingly popular alternative to surgery. PRP injections are used for soft tissue injuries and many orthopedic conditions. Platelets function as a natural reservoir for healing growth factors, which stimulate tissue recovery.

How does PRP therapy work?

Growth factors are essential substances for the repair of injured or damaged body tissues. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) contains growth factors, which stimulate tissue recovery through production of collagen and stem cell proliferation. To heal joints, growth factors increase blood flow and improve cartilage resiliency.

Who is a candidate for PRP therapy?

No matter what your activity level, age, or condition, no one should have to live in pain. Our pain management specialists use PRP to treat:

  • People of any age with chronic tendon, ligament, and/or joint pain
  • Amateur and professional athletes
  • Workers who are injured on the job
  • Active individuals

What conditions and injuries are treated with PRP therapy?

Platelet-rich therapy is used to treat a variety of acute and chronic injuries and conditions. These include:

  • Chronic low back pain
  • Tennis elbow, Golfer’s Elbow
  • Knee and Hip osteoarthritis
  • Ankle Arthritis
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Neck pain
  • Acute and chronic tendon and ligament injuries
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL) tears
  • Lateral Collateral Ligament Tears

How is PRP administered?

The first step in the PRP injection procedure involves drawing approximately 30 milliliters of the patient’s blood. The blood is place in a centrifuge to separate the plasma from the whole blood components. The Nashville pain management doctor then uses ultrasound or fluoroscopy if necessary, which helps pinpoint the exact location to treat.

The physician watches on the monitor as the needle is precisely positioned in the joint or the targeted area. A local anesthetic is injected into the skin and soft tissues first, and that is followed by the PRP injection.

How long does it take to get results from the PRP injection?

You will have a slight increase in pain right after the PRP injection, but this lessens with each passing day. Approximately 2-4 weeks following the injection, you will experience increased strength, improved functional mobility, and enhanced endurance. Many patients continue to improve for up to 9-12 months following PRP therapy. Ultrasound and magnetic resonance (MRI) imaging shows tissue repair after this treatment, which supports the healing technology.

How effective is PRP injections for arthritis pain?

In a recent review of clinical studies, the success rate for PRP in treating arthritic joints was 80-85%. However, some joints do not respond well to PRP injections, such as the hip. Patients with advanced arthritis often need a repeat course of therapy in 1-3 years. In one study, PRP showed better clinical outcomes when compared to hyaluronic acid injections for knee arthritis.

Is PRP therapy a substitute for surgery?

If you have a chronic medical condition that requires surgery, PRP is not a substitute for the procedure. However, certain orthopedic problems can be treated with PRP, delaying the surgical procedure. It is impossible to predict how a patient will respond to this new therapy, but when combined with physical therapy and other treatment modalities, surgery can often be postponed for a while.

Do PRP injections work?

Many clinical studies prove that PRP therapy is safe and effective. In a 2014 study, patients with plantar fasciitis continued to gradually improve after the PRP injection, and were notably improved at the 1- and 2-year follow-ups. In another study, participants reported more than 60% pain reduction following PRP injections for elbow pain.

What are the risks and complications associated with PRP therapy?

While platelet-rich plasma treatment holds much promise, there are a few rare risks associated with this therapy. Complications include nerve damage, infection, bleeding, and tissue damage. In addition, not many insurance plans provide reimbursement for PRP therapy at this time.

Resources

Cerza et al. (2012). Comparison between hyaluronic acid and platelet-rich plasma, intra-articular infiltration in the treatment of gonarthrosis. Am J Sports Med, 40(12):2822-2827.

Creaney L, Wallace A, Curtis M, & Connell D (2011). Growth factor-based therapies provide additional benefit beyond physical therapy in resistant elbow tendinopathy: a prospective, single-blind, randomised trial of autologous blood injections versus platelet-rich plasma injections. Br J Sports Med, 45(12):966-71.

Gobbi et al. (2012). Platelet-rich plasma treatment in symptomatic patients with knee osteoarthritis: Preliminary results in a group of active patients. Sports Health, 4(2):162-172.

Monto RR (2014).  Platelet-rich plasma efficacy versus corticosteroid injection treatment for chronic severe plantar fasciitis. Foot & Ankle International, 35(40), 313-318.