What does PRP Stand For and What Is It?

PRP stands for platelet rich plasma. Plasma is the fluid that makes up the majority of your blood’s volume; platelets help your body heal wounds. Platelet rich plasma is plasma that has more platelets in it than standard plasma. Essentially, PRP is your own platelets concentrated to increase their healing power.

How does PRP Work?

Blood is drawn from your arm and the platelets are separated.

Your blood will be taken from your arm and put in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the rest of the blood. They’ll then be concentrated in a fluid that will be injected in the part of your body that needs to be healed. 

Platelets encourage the body to heal and produce new tissue. This is why PRP treatments are good for ligaments, tendons, soft tissues, joints, and is even used for hair treatment and skincare. Because we’re a pain clinic, we’re focused on, well, minimizing or eliminating pain. So, we’ll use PRP when possible to help repair soft tissue that may be causing you pain. 

Is PRP the Same as Stem Cell Therapy?

PRP and stem cell therapy are two different things, though they’re often confused. Calling PRP stem cell therapy is a misnomer. PRP relies on the platelets in your own blood rather than stem cells. Both treatments can help generate new tissue and can be used to treat injuries and pain from conditions like arthritis. Sometimes, PRP is used in combination with stem cell therapy. 

What Can PRP Treat?

PRP can treat most soft tissue damage, including damage that affects joints. Some popular conditions PRP treats are:

  • Arthritis
  • Many joint problems, including knee, elbow, and shoulder injuries
  • Bursitis
  • Tendon injuries like tennis elbow
  • Ligament injuries 
  • Chronic pain
  • Pain due to ‘wear and tear’ on the joints and ligament

How Long Does PRP Treatment Take?

The treatment will occur in a few stages. The first stage involves drawing blood from your arm. Your blood is then put in a centrifuge to separate PRP from platelet-poor plasma. This can take up to a half hour. 

The next step is the injection or injections. These are relatively quick — it can be over in just a few minutes or less. 

The healing process follows, and this will take some time. Because PRP encourages your body to heal naturally, the effects may not be instantaneous. Instead, they may take between 2-8 weeks to be fully effective. To maximize efficacy, we routinely do 3 total treatments spaced 2-weeks apart. 

How Do I Know if PRP Is Right for Me?

Of course, the best way to determine if PRP therapy is right for you is to consult a pain management specialist. They’ll be able to determine if PRP can help manage — or heal — what ails you. Call 650-667-2322 to set up a consultation.

If you have suffered from chronic pain in joints, tendons, or ligaments, you may be a prime candidate for PRP. Your pain management physician may choose to include PRP as part of a comprehensive pain management regimen.

Will I Need Multiple PRP Injections?

In general, yes. We have achieved the best results with our patients when a series of three treatments are performed. Having multiple injections of PRP is common, and, in our experience, allows for maximum healing. We usually space out these treatments over the span of two to four weeks.

Is PRP Treatment Temporary?

PRP treatment is long-lasting, though it can be repeated as many times as is necessary. Because PRP promotes actual healing rather than simply treating symptoms, it is not considered a temporary treatment. The effects of PRP will not “wear off” like those of pain medications or corticosteroids like cortisone. 

How Quickly will PRP Work?

Patients should note that while PRP is an effective long-term healing strategy, its effects are not instantaneous. The healing effects of PRP can be felt in as little as two weeks in some patients, though for others it may take up to six months to feel the maximum effect. If your pain has not been thoroughly reduced after four to six months, it’s best to come in for another consultation. 

Is PRP Treatment Safe?

PRP treatment has an extremely low rate of side effects. Since platelets drawn from your own body are the main component in PRP, the treatment is very safe.

Does PRP Treatment Hurt?

As many nurses love to say, “You may feel a little pressure.” You’ll have blood drawn at the beginning — the only pain in that part of the process is from the needle. After the injection, you may feel some soreness and inflammation for around 48 hours. Most patients report this pain is quite manageable. As it is a minimally invasive treatment, patients do not need to plan for a long recovery time as they would with surgery. 

Is PRP Like a Cortisone Shot?

Simply put: no. A cortisone shot will temporarily reduce pain and inflammation in the area, but it will not address the underlying cause of the pain or injury. Cortisone is a corticosteroid that suppresses your body’s immune response — the immune response that leads to swelling. While cortisone may have an immediate effect, it will wear off. Additionally, having cortisone shots too often risks lowering your immune system too much, making viral and bacterial infection more likely. 

Can PRP Be Rejected by the Body?

No. Because the platelets are drawn from your own blood, your body will recognize it as its own and will not reject it. 

Are PRP Treatments Covered by Insurance?

Insurance companies consider PRP treatments elective and as such will not cover them. However, the initial consultation for PRP treatments is covered by insurance, so if you think you may need it do not hesitate to make an appointment due to cost. 

How Much do PRP Treatments Cost?

The cost of a PRP treatment includes the equipment and supplies necessary to isolate PRP from your blood as well as the Physician’s expertise with the injection(s). Please call 650-667-2322 to discuss the price. 

What can I expect after the PRP treatment?

PRP “restarts” your body’s healing process. You can experience additional soreness and pain at the injection site. We recommend that patients use an ice-pack for 15 minutes for relief. Additionally, PRP causes inflammation which in turn causes the body to heal, so it’s important to not take anti-inflammatory medication during this healing period.