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Common questions about Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)

At our sports injury clinic in Portland, Oregon, several common questions we hear about PRP are:


--Is PRP effective?

--Is PRP a permanent fix?

--Is one PRP treatment enough?

--What does PRP cost?


PRP was first defined about 50 years ago and has been used in medical procedures since the early 1990s when it was utilized in spine and dental procedures. Around 20-25 years ago, PRP began to gain interest in orthopedics and sports medicine, and in the past ten years, research studies have helped advance the use of PRP in treating a variety of musculoskeletal conditions.


Through research, we’ve been able to better standardize PRP and improve its quality and delivery to affected tissues providing an effective treatment for chronic pain in tendons and joints by utilizing the highest quality PRP.  We are optimizing the white blood cells in PRP when using it for tendon applications and are able to reduce white and red blood cells when injecting PRP into joints like the knee and hip. 


When patients consider a PRP injection they want to know—is this a permanent fix? When it comes to utilizing PRP for tendon problems like “tennis elbow” which affects the outside of the elbow, or “jumpers’ knee” which affects the patellar tendon that runs along the front of the kneecap, one injection of PRP can accelerate healing (while in conjunction with an appropriate exercise regimen) and help provide permanent relief to these tendinopathies.


Is PRP a permanent fix for knee or hip arthritis? Arthritis is more of a degenerative condition affecting the joints and PRP can provide lasting pain relief, but it is not considered to be a permanent fix for knee or hip arthritis.  PRP, however, is a very safe non-surgical option for individuals with chronic pain and moderate to severe arthritis affecting their joints.


Along those lines, I commonly get asked--how many sessions of PRP does it take to see results? The answer is it depends.   As mentioned above, I commonly see excellent results in tendons such as the elbow or the patella tendon with one injection of PRP.  That injection of PRP helps to kickstart the body’s healing response allowing repair of the damaged tendon or fascia, and promotes healthy collagen tissue that makes up the tendons.


It can take up to six months for a PRP injection in a tendon to have its maximum effect, however, many individuals who undergo a PRP injection feel relief much sooner. When it comes to treatment of a joint with PRP such as the knee or hip, studies indicate that anywhere from 1 to 3 injections of PRP can be effective in providing relief for six months or longer. While most studies indicate 3 PRP injections are better than one, two injections of PRP have been shown to be comparable to three injections. 


Is PRP worth the cost?  Well, that is a relative question that depends on how much pain you’re in, how long this pain has been going on, how it affects your work or sports activity, and what improvement in your quality of life is worth to you.


Though PRP injections can be expensive, costing anywhere from $600 or more, it is important to know that not all PRP therapies are created equal. As a rule, higher quality PRP costs more than lower quality PRP. There are also many different providers who perform PRP injections. If you are considering PRP for a musculoskeletal condition, you want to have high quality PRP to optimize healing, which means it’s concentrated to have at least 1 billion platelets per mL, and you want to have a sports medicine physician or orthopedic surgeon who is trained and experienced in both identifying the source of your pain and accurately targeting the pain with PRP.


PRP only works if it injected into the right site for the right diagnosis.  Your sports medicine doctor should perform PRP using ultrasound guidance and be able to provide you with appropriate rehabilitation instructions after the PRP procedure.


At Sports Health Northwest, we use the highest quality musculoskeletal PRP and have over 15 years experience in ultrasound guided PRP procedures. If you are considering PRP, contact us to schedule an appointment.

Dr Westerdahl David Westerdahl MD FAAFP RMSK Sports Medicine Physician and owner Sports Health Northwest, Inc.

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