FAQ - PLATELET RICH PLASMA (PRP)
WHAT IS PRP AND HOW IS IT PRODUCED?
PRP or platelet rich plasma is plasma from a patient in which the platelets are concentrated and the red cells removed. A small amount of blood, 45cc is drawn in the office. The blood is centrifuged and processed in the office to produce 4cc of PRP for injection.
WHAT DOES PRP DO?
PRP helps tissues heal and decreases inflammation. Platelets contain powerful growth factors and anti-inflammatory cytokines. PRP also draws your own stem cells to the area to help with healing.
WHAT IS PRP USED FOR?
We inject PRP into arthritic joints as an alternative to total joint replacement or arthroscopic surgery; and into damaged tendons instead of destructive cortisone, toxic medicines or surgery.
HOW SUCCESSFUL IS PRP INJECTION FOR ARTHRITIS AT AVOIDING JOINT REPLACEMENT SURGERY?
Overall about 80% of patients with mild or moderate arthritis of the knee, hip and shoulder are successfully treated and are able to avoid joint replacement surgery for many years. Many of these patients had been told that joint replacement surgery was their only alternative. Even for bone on bone arthritis of the knee (but not the hip) we frequently have success and patients are able to avoid surgery. However the per cent of patients with bone on bone arthritis successfully treated is less than for less severe arthritis.
WHAT JOINTS MAY BE INJECTED?
All joints can respond to PRP including the Great Toe, the hand and thumbs, the A-C joint of the shoulder, the elbow and wrist.
HOW SUCCESSFUL IS PRP FOR TREATING TENDON INJURIES?
For tendon injury (but not complete rupture which usually must be treated surgically) our success rate is very high. Few if any patients have needed surgery after PRP treatment from us. These include rotator cuff injury of the shoulder, achilles tendon injury, tennis elbow and plantar fasciitis.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR SHOULDER ROTATOR CUFF TEAR STUDY?
We completed a clinical study of over 70 patients with partial tears of the rotator cuff treated with PRP. Most had been told they needed surgery. Surgery is often not effective for partial rotator cuff tears. After treatment with PRP none of the patients had further damage to the tendon and none needed rotator cuff surgery. Most had excellent relief of pain for at least two years – which was the minimal follow-up duration of the study. Dr Prodromos specializes in arthroscopic minimally invasive repair of full thickness rotator cuff tears. However partial tears are far more common and PRP allows him to treat these successfully without surgery.
DOES PRP HAVE ANY RISKS?
After more than 4000 injections we have had no adverse events. There is always a theoretical risk of infection anytime there is an injection. However we have never had one. And PRP has anti-infection properties and is actually used to treat infection.
HOW LONG DOES THE PROCEDURE TAKE?
Total time for the procedure is under an hour including the injection.
IS THE INJECTION PAINFUL?
There is very minimal discomfort from the injection into joints. Patients are often surprised that the injection is already done. Some tendon injections are more painful.
IS PRP COVERED BY INSURANCE?
No insurance company in the USA covers PRP. Workers’ compensation sometimes does. Our charge for the procedure is significantly less than the average fee in Chicago.
CAN I BE ACTIVE AFTER THE INJECTION?
Yes, but you should not exercise the affected part for 5-7 days after the injection.
HOW MANY INJECTIONS WILL I NEED?
Most patients need one. Some patients elect a second injection one month after the first if there is residual discomfort.
HOW DOES PRP INJECTION COMPARE TO STEM CELL INJECTION?
They work similarly. However stem cell treatments have a longer duration of effect and are more effective for severe arthritis.
HOW LONG DOES THE EFFECT LAST?
Usually at least one year, and often several years. In some cases, especially with tendon injuries, the pain may never come back.
DO ATHLETES USE PRP?
Yes professional, collegiate, and other athletes are frequently treated with PRP.