Athletes and active individuals who suffer with chronic pain from injuries (tendon, muscle, cartilage, or ligament) or osteoarthritis may find relief from platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments. Many people have found PRP to be extremely helpful in stimulating the body to heal damaged tissue that has resisted other forms of treatment, often avoiding the need for surgery. A PRP treatment is done in the office and takes less than an hour.
What is a PRP - Orthopedic Procedure
A small amount of your blood is drawn and placed in a centrifuge to separate out the platelet-rich plasma. Then, the PRP is activated using calcium and injected into the damaged area. The activated platelets release valuable growth factors and recruit stem cells, which stimulate the growth of new tissues, nerves and blood vessels around the injection sites.
What are the most common applications?
The most common applications include:
- Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
- Achilles tendonitis (inflammation and swelling of the Achilles tendon)
- Medical epicondylitis (golfer's elbow)
- Plantar fasciitis (pain at the bottom of foot)
- Chronic bursitis (in the hips)
- Patellar tendonitis (inflammation of the patellar tendon)
- Rotator cuff tendonopathy (shoulders)
How soon can I return to regular activities?
While a steroid injection may provide short-term relief, PRP focuses on providing both short and long term healing to the injured site. You will need to avoid any activity to the affected joint (other than daily use) for three weeks, and return back slowly over 8 weeks.
What do I need to do before the procedure?
While we will still perform the procedure if you have been on anti-inflammatories, we have found that people who have the best results AVOID the following items 3 days BEFORE and 3 days AFTER their procedure:
- Omega 3 Fish Oil
- Any other supplement with anti-inflammatory effects
Is the procedure painful?
We use lidocaine to anesthetize the area and most patients experience mild burning when the lidocaine is injected. After that, people typically don't feel any pain, but describe a fullness in the area.
What can I expect after the procedure?
After the procedure, you will likely be numb for a few hours. However, after that you will typically have worsening pain for 2-3 days as the platelet growth factors create a "re-injury" to the area, stimulating repair. You should not press, push or overexert the area for the next few days. You can use the joint normally, encouraging blood flow to the area, without overexerting it.
What can I do if I am in pain?
Feel free to take Acetaminophen (Tylenol). Please try to avoid putting ice on it as it will act as an anti-inflammatory and potentially impair the healing process.
Most patients experience improvements within 2-6 weeks after PRP. Symptom improvement is slow and subtle. As days and weeks pass, patients will have more good days and fewer bad days. Patients typically describe their injury as more of "soreness" than pain as the healing process continues.
After approximately 8 weeks, patients are re-evaluated for improvement. Some patients with more advanced injuries may require more than one injection to achieve successful outcomes.