Platelet rich plasma (or PRP as it is often called) is a relatively new technique for treating various musculoskeletal injuries. It is growing in popularity, most likely because many professional athletes have used it.
What is platelet rich plasma or PRP treatment?
The procedure of PRP injection begins with the practitioner drawing blood from the patient and spinning it in a centrifuge to isolate the blood plasma. Among other things, the blood plasma contains certain growth factors that are helpful for tissue healing. Although practitioners may utilize different techniques for preparing the solution, the isolated sample is injected into the injured area to help speed up the healing process.
What is the cost of PRP injections?
Through several of my patients who have tried this technique, the prices seem to range. It seems that most conditions require several injections (spread out over a period of time) with each injection costing approximately two hundred dollars. It is my understanding that it is not usually covered through extended health insurance.
Does platelet rich plasma work?
Perhaps it depends on who or what you listen to. Some notable professional athletes will tell you that it works. If you prefer to listen to the unbiased scientific studies that have been performed, you’d probably say “not sure”. Numerous studies have been performed for different tissues (lateral epicondyle of the elbow, achilles tendon and plantar fascia) yet the results seem to be conflicting. Several studies found saline (placebo) injections to have the same efficacy as platelet rich plasma injections. In my opinion, PRP injections may be a viable treatment option for some patients. Obviously, it has become popular for a reason. I do have to say that it’s interesting how a treatment approach with limited scientific evidence to support its efficacy has become so popular. Hopefully, more randomized controlled trials will be performed using large samples of patients so that we can provide more evidence based recommendations to patients. Nevertheless, I’ve attached a link to an interesting article written in the New York Times about PRP injections and the power of professional athlete endorsements. Thanks to Dr. Mark Kubert of Clearpath Chiropractic in Guelph who tweeted this article!
Please note – our clinic does not offer PRP or any form of injection treatment. This blog is solely to educate patients about various treatment options. PRP and injection treatments should only be performed by qualified medical professionals.
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Foster TE, Puskas BL. Platelet-rich plasma: from basic science to clinical application. American Journal of Sports Medicine 2009; 37(11): 2259-2272.