Healing after an injury involves a well orchestrated and complex series of events where proteins in the blood act as messengers to regulate the entire process. Many proteins involved in the healing process are derived from small cell fragments in the blood called platelets.
Platelets are small, colorless, cell fragments present in the blood. They are formed in the bone marrow and are freely passing through the bloodstream in a resting state. However, when an injury occurs, the platelets become activated and start to gather at the injury site to release beneficial proteins called growth factors. This is the beginning of the healing process.
For many years, blood components derived from the patient and then delivered to the site of injury have created growing interest for use in orthopedic procedures. New research and technology has expanded the application of this therapy for use in orthopedic procedures.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is PRP and how does it work? Back to top
Platelet-rich plasma is a concentration of your platelets (a part of your blood) obtained by spinning your whole blood in a special centrifuge. Platelets are what naturally begin the healing process in your body anytime an injury occurs. The platelets release proteins that attract your body's stem cells to the injured area. The concentration of platelets in PRP allows your body to recognize the injury as a priority and heals it more quickly and more thoroughly than your body can by itself.
How is the PRP delivered to the injured area? Back to top
The doctor may use palpation, ultrasound or fluoroscopic guidance and aseptic techniques to inject the PRP into the injured tendon, ligament, muscle, joint, bone, or nerve.
What can be treated with the PRP injections? Back to top
Many soft tissue injuries and degenerative conditions of muscle, tendon, ligament, joints, bone, and nerves, as well as many eye issues, can be treated. The success rate of our regenerative techniques depends on many factors and these will be discussed at your initial appointment.
Is PRP covered by insurance? Back to top
Most insurance companies do not cover these procedures and consider them investigational. We offer multiple payment options through our financial partners.
When do I start to feel better or see results? Back to top
This varies from patient to patient. Generally, patients report feeling less pain or seeing improvements in their symptoms as soon as 4-6 weeks post-treatment. More concrete improvements can be identified by patients in as soon as 12 weeks post-treatment. Visual improvements can be confirmed with MRI, X-ray or ultrasound approximately 12 months after treatment. Back pain can take longer.
How long does the procedure take? Back to top
The procedure will typically take between half an hour and an hour.
Can I drive or be active after the treatment? Back to top
Pain medication or other medication may inhibit your ability to drive. This will be dependent on your specific treatment. You can be active after these treatments but it is encouraged that frequent breaks be taken when pain becomes problematic. We do not want a patient to fight through pain to finish an activity.
When can I start to work out again? Back to top
We will usually have you rest and only do regular daily activities (e.g. washing, walking, light household chores, etc.) for the first 2 weeks post-treatment, then start to incorporate regular workout routines or physical therapy after that time.
When can I go back to work? Back to top
Generally, patients are able to return to work after a couple of days post-treatment. This may be dependent on your profession and the area(s) that are being treated. It is best to ask your physician for a more reliable estimate on when you may return to your work.
May I continue to take anti-inflammatory medications? Back to top
We recommend you not take anti-inflammatory medication starting 5 days prior and 4-6 weeks after your treatment. We recommend Tylenol for pain relief.
Will I experience pain after the treatment and if so for how long? Back to top
Most patients will experience 1-3 days of discomfort that is easily managed with Tylenol or a prescription pain medication that the physician will prescribe at the time of your procedure.
Will the injections be painful? Back to top
There will be a varying degree of discomfort or pain associated with the initial injection of local anesthetic as one would expect. The area injected will likely be painful for the first 24 to 72 hours and your physician may recommend pain medication. (Plan to have someone drive you home after the procedure.) If you are concerned about discomfort, pain medication may be prescribed before the procedure or we can prescribe an oral medication to decrease anxiety. If you are interested in having any pretreatment medication, be certain to request these at least one week before your scheduled procedure to provide adequate time for it to be filled at your pharmacy.
How long before I can resume activity? Back to top
Usually, 2-3 days after treatment you are able to resume normal daily activities with less pain. You may resume exercise 2 weeks after treatment cutting your time or distance in half. If your activity is painful, stop. Let pain be your guide.
Are there any adverse effects? Back to top
The main adverse side effect is post-treatment discomfort. Some patients could experience a swelling of the injected area for the first 72 hours (inflammatory phase). Specific risks and success rates will be discussed with each patient individually at the time of your initial appointment and at time of treatment - don't hesitate to call if any questions or concerns.
How many treatments will it take to heal my injury and how far apart are the treatments? Back to top
The average patient requires one to two treatments. Rarely a patient will require three. Treatments are spaced usually 6-12 weeks apart. We strive for 80-90% improvement in pain and function, but your exact goal will be discussed at your initial appointment and can vary based on the severity of your disease.
How long is the healing process? Back to top
Abnormal or damaged collagen takes 9-12 months to completely heal, but you should experience less pain and increased mobility within 4-6 weeks.
Will I be able to go to work/school after treatment? Back to top
Most people are able to return to work and/or school the next day. Occasionally we have patients that require taking a day or 2 off. Everyone responds differently to the acute inflammatory phase. We will provide a note if necessary.
What do I need to do before my procedure? Back to top
- Please ask your physician any questions you may have about your diagnosis and treatment plan.
- If you are taking any NSA1D's (ie: Motrin, Naprosyn, Advil, Aleve, Celebrex, etc.) please discontinue 5-7 days prior to treatment. You do need to stop taking aspirin or blood thinning medications unless your Bluetail physician tells you differently.
- Please wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, sports bra or shorts depending on site treated.
- If you have any anxiety regarding your procedure, please call at least 2 days before your procedure for an oral sedative prescription. If you take an oral sedative, a driver is required to take you to/from your procedure.
- If you are currently on Coumadin, Plavix, Lovinox, Prodaxa or another blood thinner we ask you to see your PCP/ Specialist and receive their permission to discontinue this medication for 3 days prior to treatment and resume the evening after treatment. You understand the risk of stopping these medications may lead to significant illness or even possible death.
- Alert the staff if you have an allergy to anesthetics, bandages or skin preparation solution.
- Follow your normal daily routine on the day of your procedure; make sure to drink plenty of water.
What should I expect after my treatment? Back to top
- The injection sites will be irritated.
- Refrain from strenuous activities, but gently moving the treated area will decrease soreness and stiffness.
- You will have small band-aids on your area(s) treated, that may be removed after 24 hours.
- It is typical to experience increased pain in the treatment area for 2-5 days after your procedure. Return to baseline pain takes 7-14 days.
- Use Extra Strength Tylenol or prescription medication provided for pain. Apply ice for pain and or swelling (10-20 minutes every 2-3 hours). Make sure to place a barrier between your skin and the ice.
- No anti-inflammatory medication (Ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve) should be used for 4 weeks post-treatment.
- You may experience the "roller coaster" syndrome where you feel great one day and for no apparent reason, the area(s) treated starts to hurt again. This is normal in the healing process.
- Follow the instructions given for exercises post-treatment. Start your physical therapy or home exercise program 2 weeks after treatment.
- If a lower extremity was treated take 325 mg Aspirin daily for 7 days after your procedure.
- A follow-up phone call or appointment with our nurse will be scheduled for 6-8 weeks post-procedure.
- Your physician's goal for improvement in your pain and function has been outlined. You may or may not need more than 1 treatment to reach that goal. In some cases, a series of2-3 treatments are needed to achieve complete healing. You are aware there exists no guarantee you will reach this goal.