Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a cutting-edge treatment that has shown promising results in promoting tissue regeneration and healing for a variety of conditions, including orthopedic injuries, musculoskeletal injuries, arthritis and chronic pain. PRP is a concentrated solution derived from your own blood that contains a high concentration of platelets, which are rich in growth factors and other proteins that promote healing and tissue regeneration. The PRP solution is obtained by taking a small sample of your blood, processing it in a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets, and then injecting the PRP into the treatment area.
When PRP is injected into injured or damaged tissue, it releases growth factors that stimulate new tissue production and attract stem cells, which can promote healing and regeneration of the damaged tissue. There are many benefits to this type of treatment, including a low risk of an allergic reaction or infection because it is derived from the patient’s own blood.
There are some risks, however, associated with PRP, such as: infection from the injections, which can be minimized with proper technique and using strike equipment, pain, particularly in the first few days after the injection, and bleeding, especially in patients taking blood thinners or who have bleeding disorders.
We sat down with Dr. Vivek Barbaria, our expert in PRP therapy, to learn more about the treatment and its process.
PRP Discussion with Dr. Babaria
Q: What does a normal course of PRP treatment look like: How many appointments are needed? For instance, is it several weeks worth? Once every quarter? Can a patient max out?
Dr. Barbaria: There is an initial consultation that we conduct that takes a deep dive into the root problem. This usually involves a review of imaging (MRI/CT). During this visit, I used diagnostic ultrasound to visualize the problem and have a record of the baseline problem that we are trying to fix. We provide our PRP protocols for the patient to follow so they can ensure they have the best blood prepared for the day of the PRP procedure.
We follow the patient at 3 weeks and 6 weeks for repeat ultrasound scans to monitor the progress of the PRP. We also have data that shows that less than 20% of our PRP patients have needed a booster or repeat procedure.
Q: Is there screening done before a patient undergoes this? Are there patients who are not good candidates?
Dr. Barbaria: Yes, I like to get blood work before the procedure to ensure the patient's blood qualifies for PRP. Some candidates may be disqualified if there are blood disorders or autoimmune disorders.
Q: When a patient describes pain as being a side effect, especially in the first few days, is that general injection site pain that people also get from inoculations? Or is it related to the platelets themselves going to work in a patient's body?
Dr. Barbaria: PRP works by recruiting the body's natural healing mechanisms. Since we are biohacking that response, there is pain associated with the inflammatory phase of recruiting all the signals. This phase can last 3-5 days and up to two weeks in rare cases. There can also be pain related to the injection site if the PRP is delivered in a very specific small joint or tendon as is expected with any injection site pain.
Video: Meet Dr. Vivek Babaria
Meet Dr. Vivek Babaria, a leader in interventional spine and sports medicine.
Q: Is this covered by insurance? Anything prospective patients can do to help get it covered?
Dr. Barbaria: The actual delivery of PRP is not covered by insurance. However, since we do take most insurance, all office visits and follow-up visits are billed through the insurance. The fees can be submitted against your annual deductible to reduce your overall healthcare dollar burden.
Q: What are the significant questions a patient should have answered by their doctor before undergoing such treatment?
Dr. Barbaria: Do you use image guidance to deliver the PRP in the specific problem? How do you prepare the PRP, and which type is right for my specific injury or concern? Which PRP kit will you use, and how much concentration will it be? Will you provide me with the proper pre and post-rehabilitation protocols?
To learn more about PRP therapy, including types of PRP therapies, research and applications of PRP, read our e-book, “Regenerative Medicine: Using Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP).”
About the author
discmdgroup DISC Sports and Spine Center (DISC) is one of America’s foremost providers of minimally invasive spine procedures and advanced arthroscopic techniques. Our individually picked, highly specialized physicians apply both established and innovative solutions to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate their patients in a one-stop, multi-disciplinary setting. With a wide range of specialists under one roof, the result is an unmatched continuity of care with more efficiency, less stress for the patient, and a zero MRSA infection rate. Read more articles by discmdgroup.