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Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

PRP knee tendon

At Sports Health Northwest, we offer a variety of treatment options for individuals of all ages and injuries.  Dr. David Westerdahl has been providing ultrasound guided interventions for over 15 years.  One treatment option he commonly gets asked questions about is platelet rich plasma, also known as PRP injections. While many insurances view PRP as experimental, there are studies that have shown this to be of benefit in treating conditions like tennis elbow or other tendon and joint problems when other conventional treatments have failed. We commonly get asked questions about PRP by our patients. I’ll try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions below.

  1. Can I get PRP on the same day as I meet the doctor?

Because PRP is a procedure that involves many steps, including drawing a moderate sample of blood, centrifuging the blood, and re-injecting the PRP concentrate into the affected area, this procedure is usually scheduled separately from the initial consult with the physician. The initial visit with the physician is focused on better understanding the injury, previous treatments, and discussing PRP and other possible treatments, including the risks, benefits, and alternatives to procedures. This allows for the patient to better understand what to expect before, during, and after a PRP injection.

  1. How many PRP injections will I need?

In many situations one PRP injection is all that is needed. When an individual has a tendon related problem, one injection of high quality PRP at the affected site is usually all that is necessary. The combination of one PRP injection, following a post injection rehab protocol and time is usually all that is necessary to achieve a good outcome. It can take anywhere from six weeks to six months to achieve the maximum benefit after a PRP injection. This is in part because the biology of healing takes time and everyone heals differently. For some locations, such as the knee or hip joint, the Sports injury doctor will discuss the options and rationale for more than one PRP injection.  

  1. Is PRP covered by insurance?

Most insurance’s view PRP injections as experimental because it utilizes the individuals own blood and platelets for healing. As a result, most insurances do not cover PRP injections. There are very few exceptions to this. However, most insurances will cover the initial consultation with your doctor.

  1. How much does a PRP injection cost?

The price of PRP can vary due to many factors including the price of the PRP kit. Better quality PRP kits tend to be more expensive.  A PRP injection involves drawing blood, centrifuging the blood for approximately 15 to 20 minutes and re-injecting the PRP into the painful and injured area using ultrasound guidance for accuracy. The process, start to finish, can take 60 to 90 minutes.  The cost is based on these factors and the physician’s time and skill injecting and using imaging guidance. Typical prices for PRP start around $800 and can exceed $2500.  At Sports Health Northwest, our PRP pricing is usually in a range from $850-$1000 which includes everything: the kit, blood, draw, centrifuge, and PRP injection. After a PRP injection sometimes physical therapy is necessary. Usually, insurance will cover physical therapy after PRP.  

  1. What kind of PRP do we use?

At Sports Health Northwest, we use high-quality PRP that can concentrate the platelets 10x over baseline. We commonly achieve over 1 billion platelets per milliliter. Additionally, our system allows us to control how many red blood cells and white blood cells are present in the PRP. 

  1. What to expect after PRP?

Before the PRP injection we recommend avoiding NSAID medicines, like ibuprofen or aspirin for one week. After a PRP injection, it is also important to avoid NSAIDs for a month after. After a PRP injection we commonly caution our patients to take it easy for the first week. This is because a PRP injection can temporarily result in worsening pain at the treatment site. This is common because the platelets are activating the bodys' healing response, which may result in additional pain transiently. After a PRP injection, we recommend relative rest for the first week, and then gradually increasing activity following the sports medicine physician’s protocol for the specific site of treatment.  For most individuals who undergo PRP injection for a soft tissue problem like a tendon injury, we gradually increase your activity back to normal within six weeks or so after the procedure.  This can vary depending on the treatment site and the individual. 

  1. Who is a candidate for PRP?

Broadly speaking, just about anyone is a candidate for a PRP injection depending on their injury. Usually, we try traditional treatment options first. However, if pain is chronic and not improving with typical treatment methods, then we may discuss PRP as an option.  At Sports Health Northwest, we don’t commonly offer PRP injections to individuals younger than high school age. Also, individuals who are actively undergoing cancer treatment or have had certain types of cancer should avoid PRP. Individuals with an active infection at or near the treatment site should avoid PRP.  Lastly, individuals who are anemic should avoid PRP.

At Sports Health Northwest, we are happy to provide you with treatment options to help you recover from your injury and get back to enjoying activities, hobbies, work, and sports. A PRP injection may be an appropriate option for you. If you have an injury that is keeping you away from things you enjoy, please contact us.

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

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