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Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections Revolutionizing Sports Medicine

Dr Jeffrey Peng is a leader in platelet rich plasma therapy. He has invaluable informational content on YouTube and has published a peer reviewed article with many of the leading researchers and clinicians in the field of orthobiologics.

Platelet rich plasma injections also known as PRP have garnered significant attention for their remarkable results. PRP is derived from your own body and uses its natural healing mechanisms to alleviate joint pain, treat tendon injuries, and accelerate your recovery.

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Natural Healing For Tendon Disorders And Tendinopathy.
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Accelerated Recovery Times For Soft Tissue Injuries.
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Better And More Sustained Pain and Symptom Relief.
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Reduced Inflammation And Pain For Joints And Arthritis.
Improved Function And Quality Of Life.
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Minimally Invasive With Fast Return to Daily Activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is PRP? What are the benefits?
    Platelets are tiny blood cells that circulate in your blood. They serve many functions including initiating pathways that are involved in tissue healing, tissue remodeling, and pain relief. PRP also contains an enormous amount of growth factors that naturally circulate in your body. There is a large and growing amount of research which supports the use of PRP in soft tissue problems such as tendinopathy as well as joint problems such as osteoarthritis. Some of the most well researched and best use cases of PRP include knee osteoarthritis, hip osteoarthritis, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, plantar fasciitis, gluteal tendinopathy, rotator cuff disorders, frozen shoulder, De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. PRP injections result in faster recovery times, reduced inflammation, decreased pain, enhanced function, and improved quality of life. All of these help promote healing and drive recovery.
  • What is the preparation and injection process?
    To obtain PRP, we draw your blood using a small needle into a specialized tube. The tube is placed in a centrifuge to concentrate the number of platelets. These concentrated platelets are mixed within the plasma (hence, platelet rich plasma) and injected under ultrasound guidance into the affected area.The entire process takes about 45 minutes and is done in the office. The injection itself is fairly painless and in most situations you can drive yourself home afterwards.
  • Are PRP injections painful?
    To ensure a more comfortable experience during musculoskeletal injections, we first apply ethyl chloride cold spray to numb the skin, followed by an injection of a local anesthetic. While joint injections are generally well-tolerated, tendon injections may result in more discomfort due to the needle tenotomy process, which involves mechanically disrupting the affected tendon with minimal local anesthesia.
  • What can I expect after a PRP injection?
    After a PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) injection, most patients can drive themselves home, though it's crucial to consult your healthcare provider beforehand. It's common to experience soreness or even increased pain at the injection site, especially for soft tissue treatments like tendons and ligaments. This discomfort arises from the activation of platelets and the release of growth factors, causing a local inflammatory reaction that typically resolves within a week. Importantly, avoid taking NSAID medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen for at least two weeks post-injection, as these can interfere with platelet function and undermine the treatment's effectiveness. Acetaminophen is safe to take afterwards for post procedural pain (if any). Applying heat to the affected area for 10 minutes, three times a day for the first three days can also be beneficial, as it enhances blood flow and cellular signaling, potentially boosting the PRP treatment's effectiveness.
  • What is the recovery time after a PRP injection?
    Post-PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) injection recovery can be broadly divided into three phases, tailored to individual needs. Phase 1 (Days 0-3) aims to protect the injection site, requiring either light activity or full immobilization depending on the treatment area. In Phase 2 (Days 4-14), immobilization devices are removed and patients gradually increase physical load. Gentle stretching and range of motion activities are recommended from days 4 to 7, with light strengthening and cardio exercises added from days 7 to 14. Finally, Phase 3 (Weeks 3-6) focuses on restoring range of motion and improving strength and endurance. Strengthening exercises are maintained, and aerobic activities like walking or cycling are advanced as tolerated. If pain worsens at any point, it's crucial to ease up and consult your healthcare provider. By the 6-week mark, most patients can return to their baseline activities, although some may require a follow-up PRP injection.
  • How soon can I expect results after a PRP injection?
    The timeline for results after a PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) injection varies depending on the treatment area and individual factors. For soft tissue injuries like tendons, expect a healing process that aligns with the body's natural cascade: an initial inflammatory phase, followed by tissue regeneration in the proliferative phase, and finally, tissue remodeling. This full cycle often means you'll notice clear improvements around the 3-month mark. For joint treatments, particularly in cases of arthritis, the results generally come faster—often within the first few weeks—since the focus is on regulating the joint's inflammatory environment. Factors like the specific tendon treated, injury severity, and a patient’s overall health can influence these timelines. For instance, chronic conditions like diabetes can impede the body's natural healing, extending the time needed to see results.
  • How many PRP injections are required?
    The number of PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) injections needed for optimal results varies based on the condition being treated and individual factors. In the case of soft tissue injuries like tennis elbow, a single high-dose PRP injection has been shown to offer long-lasting relief and may even outperform other treatments like cortisone or surgery. Typically, if symptoms persist, a follow-up evaluation is advised after 3 months to consider a second injection. For joint issues like knee osteoarthritis, the treatment goal differs; PRP aims to regulate chronic inflammation rather than repair tissue. Studies have shown a single high-dose PRP injection can offer up to a year of relief, with booster injections recommended annually to maintain improvement and slow the progression of arthritis. While high-dose PRP is generally more effective than low-dose, the ideal number and timing of injections are still under research and should be personalized through consultation with a healthcare provider.
  • Are there any side effects of PRP?
    The risks and side effects of PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) injections are generally minimal, largely because the treatment uses your own body's cells, virtually eliminating the risk of allergic reactions. However, as with any injection procedure, there is a slight risk of bleeding and infection, although these are minimized through the use of sterile technique and ultrasound guidance. The most notable side effect is a post-inflammatory reaction, particularly common in soft tissue treatments like those for tendons. This can cause discomfort for a few days but usually resolves on its own, indicating the body's natural healing process at work.
  • Can PRP be combined with other treatments?
    Combining PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) therapy with other treatments often comes up in the management of orthopedic conditions. While PRP can be synergistic with some treatments like physical therapy, it's important to exercise caution when considering injections like cortisone, as they can counteract PRP's healing effects. Waiting at least four weeks between cortisone and PRP injections is generally advised. The combination of PRP with hyaluronic acid, popularly considered for its potential synergistic effects in treating knee arthritis, has not been shown to be superior to PRP alone, according to systematic reviews and meta-analyses. As for more experimental 'cocktails' combining PRP with other substances like stem cells or exosomes, solid evidence supporting their efficacy is lacking. However, augmenting surgical procedures like meniscus tear and rotator cuff repairs with PRP has garnered promising results, including lower failure rates and improved postoperative pain, according to several studies.
  • How can I optimize my PRP for best results and how do I prepare for a PRP injection?
    To optimize the effectiveness of PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) treatments, focusing on overall health and medication use is essential. Proper blood pressure control, nutrition, and blood sugar levels can positively influence platelet function and PRP outcomes. Diets like the Mediterranean, rich in anti-inflammatory foods, are recommended. Avoid using substances that can interfere with platelet function, such as alcohol, tobacco, and certain pain medications like NSAIDs. If you're on antiplatelet agents or blood thinners, consult your healthcare provider for tailored advice. Additionally, sleep well the night before, stay hydrated, and eat a balanced meal before your injection for an overall smoother procedure and better results.
  • Are there certain people who shouldn't get PRP therapy?
    While PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) therapy is generally safe for a wide range of patients, there are some specific cases where it may not be advisable. Patients with cardiovascular conditions like coronary artery disease, or those who have suffered a stroke, are often on antiplatelet medications which can negate the effects of PRP. Similarly, those with systemic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, who may be taking daily NSAIDs or steroids, could find the treatment less effective. People undergoing other medical procedures may also need medications that interfere with PRP. However, age is generally not a limiting factor; both younger and older patients can benefit, though older individuals with more severe conditions might require multiple or more frequent injections for optimal results.
  • Is PRP therapy covered by insurance? Why not?
    PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) injections are generally not covered by insurance. Despite considerable evidence supporting the efficacy of PRP in treating conditions like knee osteoarthritis and various tendinopathies, most insurance providers consider the treatment experimental. Medical societies such as the European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons have supported the use of PRP, highlighting its effectiveness and safety compared to other treatments like cortisone injections. The key roadblock to insurance coverage seems to be inconsistent study results and the need for a more nuanced understanding of PRP's dosage-response curve. Cost-benefit analyses demonstrating PRP's long-term economic advantages for healthcare could potentially change this stance.
  • How does PRP compare to other common treatments (ie. cortisone injections)?
    Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections have demonstrated superior efficacy over corticosteroid injections in both joint and tendon conditions. For knee osteoarthritis, numerous randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews consistently show that PRP significantly reduces pain, improves function, and has a better long-term side effect profile, including potentially slowing down the progression of arthritis. On the other hand, corticosteroids offer temporary relief but can weaken healthy cartilage and accelerate joint degeneration. When it comes to tendinopathies like tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow, corticosteroid injections provide short-term pain relief but can degrade collagen, which is harmful in the long term. Conversely, PRP shows both short-term and long-term benefits and may even offer improvements comparable to surgical interventions for tennis elbow. Overall, PRP not only alleviates symptoms but also creates a healthier joint environment, making it a superior choice for both joint and soft tissue conditions.
  • What’s the difference between PRP and stem cells?
    Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) injections and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections both offer significant pain relief and improved function in conditions like knee arthritis. MSCs are not pluripotent stem cells capable of regenerating tissue; rather, they operate similarly to PRP by reducing pain and enhancing function through growth factors. Two main sources of MSCs—microfragmented adipose tissue (MFAT) and bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC)—have both shown efficacy, although BMAC appeared slightly more effective than MFAT in some studies. However, head-to-head comparisons between PRP and BMAC indicate no significant difference in treatment outcomes. Despite their similar efficacy, MSC treatments are nearly four times costlier than PRP and involve a more invasive harvesting process with higher rates of adverse effects. Therefore, given the current evidence, PRP is a more cost-effective and less invasive option for similar therapeutic benefits.
  • How do I choose a doctor that performs PRP?
    Choosing the right healthcare provider for PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) treatments is critical. The expertise varies widely among providers, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and chiropractors, who may lack the specialized knowledge in PRP therapies. It's vital to select a board-certified MD or DO and inquire about their use of imaging guidance, platelet dosing, and whether they track patient outcomes. Beware of misleading information; a study found that 96% of websites advertising stem cell therapies contained misinformation. As PRP treatments themselves also vary—leukocyte-rich vs. leukocyte-poor, platelet-rich fibrin vs. plasma, and different activation methods—it's crucial to consult with a knowledgeable provider to make informed decisions and maximize the potential benefits of your treatment.
  • What conditions has PRP been shown to benefit?
    PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) therapy has garnered robust scientific support for treating a variety of conditions, most notably knee and other joint osteoarthritises, elbow and gluteal tendinopathies, and plantar fasciitis. However, its efficacy varies; for instance, while effective in treating rotator cuff issues and hand-wrist pathologies like de Quervain's and carpal tunnel syndrome, results for Achilles and patellar tendons are inconsistent. Factors like imaging guidance and PRP dosage in clinical trials can contribute to these variable outcomes. It's important to note that PRP isn't a cure-all; it won't reverse arthritis or mend completely torn tendons or ligaments. For those interested in diving deeper into the evidence, I've compiled a medical literature database featuring studies on PRP and other therapies, which can be found here:
  • Where can I learn more about PRP?
    The Ultimate Guide to PRP Injections for Arthritis and Tendons:
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