What is PRP (platelet rich plasma) and can it help my pain?

An active 32 year old male with partial tearing in his achilles tendon.

He had tried all other non-surgical options but was unable to return to his previous level of activity. After examining him and performing an ultrasound exam of his tendon we elected to proceed with a PRP injection. He had a tremendously successful outcome and has returned to all his explosive physical activity. 

Prior to PRP, pain and thickening (tendinopathy) in a tendon was treated with physical therapy and adjustments in your activity. If this did not help your pain and you were unable to get back to your level of activity you were generally referred to a surgeon. In some cases, usually for tennis elbow, patients might have received cortisone injections. As early as 2006, research studies were showing that PRP was 80% effective in improving pain and function from tennis elbow. PRP research has continued and now studies exist for the patellar tendon (knee), rotator cuff tendons (shoulder), achilles tendon (heel) and gluteus tendon (hip). In some cases, even if there is partial tearing, PRP could still be a great option. If there are larger tears, you might be a candidate for a bone marrow/stem cell injection. The research for stem cells is also growing rapidly. 

A 78 year old female with moderate - advanced knee arthritis 

She had tried cortisone and hyaluronic acid (HA) injections with minimal improvement in her pain. It was preventing her from walking and gardening - which she loved! Although PRP has been researched in mild - moderate arthritis, she elected to proceed since she was not interested in getting a knee replacement. PRP injections are controlling her pain for approximately 8 months and she has been able to return to gardening without any difficulty. 

Prior to biologics (PRP and stem cells), treatment of the pain associated with arthritis was treated with cortisone injections and HA. The guidance patients have typically received is “you will eventually need a knee replacement when the pain is bad enough”. I am encouraged every day that we now have a better way to manage pain from arthritis. Spanning from 2006 - current there have been countless studies that have confirmed that PRP, for mild-moderate arthritis, controls patient’s pain better than cortisone and HA. PRP is not getting rid of your arthritis but IS chainging the inflammatory environment in your knee joint that leads to pain and swelling. Since we are not getting rid of your arthritis you will need repeat injections and the frequency will be dependent on your degree of arthritis. In the last few years, there is emerging research that stem cells are better suited for moderate - advanced arthritis. The effect of stem cells in your knee will generally last longer than a PRP injection, therefore the frequency of injections will be less but will also need to be repeated at some point. 

Additionally, there is emerging research on the use of PRP in other arthritic joints - your hand/wrist, hip, shoulders, foot/ankle. 

Schedule an appointment to see if biologics is right for you and if it can help you maintain your quality of life. 

Read more from Dr. Dunbar regarding the benefits of PRP and Tenex here: Tenex vs PRP

Contact the office and book an appointment today

 

 

 

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Author
Dr. Siatta Dunbar

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