Many active athletes, weekend warriors, and folks with arthritic joints have been asking about two treatments options for their pain: Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and “Stem Cells.” Both treatment options have become increasingly popular, but at the same time, there’s a lot of false information about them, especially online. For this reason, Dr. John McDonald thinks it’s important to update patients. These procedures are also not covered by insurance, so we want our patients, who are eligible, to be well informed before undergoing such treatments.
The focus of this information is on joint cartilage injuries, arthritis and focal cartilage defects (potholes in cartilage). First let’s take a closer look at PRP.
What is PRP?
PRP comes from your own blood. Platelets are naturally found in your blood and help with clotting after an injury. They also have growth factors that can induce new blood vessel growth to help in recruiting other healing cells to an injured area.
Why isn’t PRP always effective?
First we draw blood then it is ‘spun’ into a centrifuge to seperate out the platelet layer, which is then removed. Many different companies provide systems to do this, however, not all PRP is the same. The various systems that are engineered to harvest PRP also are able to harvest other cells. Additionally, the concentration of platelets per unit volume differs among systems. With that said, initial clinical studies on “PRP” have had mixed results because different systems test different types of PRP.
For example, some PRP formulations contain a high number of leukocytes (white blood cells). These formulations are called Leukocyte Rich PRP (LR-PRP). Depending on the formation and condition we’re treating, some patients may experience a positive response and some patients may actually feel MORE pain. It’s important to discuss which formation is best for you.
Click here for more information about what specific conditions some patients may see some benefits from PRP.