PLATELET RICH PLASMA

WHAT ARE PLATELETS?
Platelets are small disc-like structures that are present in the blood and best known for forming clots when someone is bleeding. At the time of injury, platelets are activated and adhere themselves to the torn tissue or collagen and pull it together. They form a sticky fibrin matrix that binds the sides together, while secreting growth factors and recruiting stem cells to help repair the injury.
WHAT IS PLATELET RICH PLASMA (PRP)?

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a concentration of platelets extracted from a patient’s own blood and created with a centrifuge. Depending on the desired type of PRP, platelet concentration levels can range from 2.5 to over 20 times that in blood with white blood cells present or removed.

WHAT IS PRP USED FOR?
PRP is used to promote the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, and joints. We have found PRP to be highly effective for treating disc degeneration in the spine, osteoarthritis in joints, and chronic ligament and fibrocartilage tears such as the knee meniscus, hip labrum and triangular fibrocartilage of the wrist.
WHY ISN'T PRP COVERED BY MY INSURANCE?
Some insurance companies are starting to cover the procedure for chronic lateral elbow pain (chronic tennis elbow), because a number of studies have proven efficacy for this condition. We understand some workman’s compensation insurance policies cover it for discs in the spine, but not until after a thorough consultation and review of the indications and potential benefits. Most health insurance companies do pay for office consultations and potentially for some aspects of the procedures, such as joint aspiration or a nerve block to reduce procedure-related pain.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
The side effects associated with PRP are primarily injection-site related and include pain and inflammation. Inflammation consists of increased blood flow, so that is good and we advise not taking any anti-inflammatory medication for 8 weeks afterwards. Tylenol is considered an acceptable medication.
DOES IT HURT TO GET THE PRP TREATMENT?

PRP requires a blood draw, which is relatively painless. The injection area is treated with a local anesthetic to minimize discomfort when the PRP is injected into the affected area. When the PRP is injected, it is relatively painless if it goes into a joint space, but can hurt if it goes into tendon, ligament, or disc. Some patients prefer a stronger form of pain relief prior to the procedure and a nerve block can be administered.

ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
The side effects associated with PRP are primarily injection-site related and include pain and inflammation. Inflammation consists of increased blood flow, so that is good and we advise not taking any anti-inflammatory medication for 8 weeks afterwards. Tylenol is considered an acceptable medication.
WHAT IF I ALREADY HAD SURGERY, CAN PRP HELP?
Yes, absolutely, but it depends on the problem. PRP works to stimulate growth on a cellular level, which means it is functioning in a deeper capacity than a surgeon can. These treatments will promote growth that can repair damaged tissue and collagen.

We have seen cases in which a precise ultrasound-guided injection of PRP served to fully seal a torn hip labrum that remained unsealed despite the properly applied sutures. We have also seen patients respond to PRP in a disc that continued to hurt and was located above the discs that had been fused during lumbar surgery.

There are many other examples of PRP treatments being highly effective.

WHY DO SOME PEOPLE RESPOND TO PRP AND OTHERS DO NOT?

This is an excellent question and one of the main reasons we have the Napa Medical Research Foundation. We are trying to determine why these treatments work in some people and not in others. With any medical treatment, outcomes are highly individual. The speed of recovery and resolution of symptoms depend on the size and nature of the injury, and how amenable it is to biologic treatments. There are a myriad of factors unique to each patient to consider. That said, our studies do show highly effective response rates for PRP with respect to osteoarthritis, disc degeneration, and fibro-cartilage tears in areas like the hip labrum, wrist and knee meniscus.

 Reduce Pain. Increase Mobility & Function. Improve Quality of Life.

All the research conducted through the Napa Medical Research Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is fully funded through generous donations received from individuals and family foundations.