What are platelet-rich plasma (PRP)?
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) is blood plasma that has been concentrated to isolate platelets, along with several different growth factors and cytokines that stimulate healing of bone and soft tissue.
Platelets are a type of blood cell involved with healing and also contain large reservoirs of natural growth factors that are essential for cell recruitment and proliferation involved in wound/injury healing. For more information, click here
What cytokines and growth factors are present in PRP?
- Mitogenic (growth) factors
- Platelet derived growth factor (PDGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), transforming growth factor beta (TGF-?)
- Angiogenic growth factor (which helps promote blood flow and recruitment)
- Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-?1)
- Matrix-building proteins
- Fibrinogen, fibronectin, vitronectin
- Anti-inflammatory proteins
- Alpha-2-macroglobulin (A2M), interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein (IRAP)
Is there any scientific evidence behind this treatment?
Yes, depending on the specific indication, there are varying amounts of scientific data. As PRP has been a rapidly evolving technology, the variability between studies at different points in time make some of the findings quite heterogeneous. Please visit our section on research for more details. For a more complete listing of all published works, please visit the US National Library of Medicine.
What is the difference between PRP and stem cell injections?
PRP injections involve the injection of concentrated plasma that has been enriched for platelets and growth factors, while stem cell injections also involve the injection of PRP but have the added benefit of delivering mesenchymal stem cells directly to the injured tissue. The PRP contains cytokines and growth factors to stimulate regeneration whereas the stem cell injections combine these growth factors and cytokines with stem cells which help create a micro-environment that directly allows progenitor cells to differentiate into specialized cells and regenerate tissue.
Are there any side effects?
The side effects of the PRP injection are minimal and may include: localized joint pain and swelling, difficulty walking or limited range of motion. However, these side effects typically resolve after a few days and no long-term negative side effects or risks have been reported.
It is important to note that anytime the skin is broken during a medical procedure, there is a risk of bleeding or infection but this occurs less than 1% of the time.
What is PRP used for?
PRP has been shown to have uses in treating a variety of different conditions but is primarily used in orthopedics for osteoarthritis, tendonitis, tendinopathies and muscle strains and partial tears. For a larger list of indications, visit our conditions treated page to view other body parts where regenerative medicine can be used.
When will this treatment start working?
Everyone is a little bit different but typically, you will start to feel some of the positive effects after 4-6 weeks but it can take 2-3 months before most of the benefits are realized.
What should I do after a PRP injection?
After a PRP injection, the area that gets injected will usually feel a little bit sore and this can last for a few days before decreasing. We recommend you plan to rest for the remainder of the day. Please do not take any NSAIDs or anti-inflammatory medications (Advil, ibuprofen, naproxen, Aleve, Celebrex, etc) for 7 days after the procedure. These medications will work against the platelet and stem cell treatment. Unless otherwise indicated, Tylenol can be taken once every 4-6 hours for the discomfort.
Does government or private insurance cover stem cell therapy and how much does it cost?
Unfortunately, most (if not all) private insurance and government insurance do not currently cover PRP injections and therefore patients must pay for this procedure out of pocket. However, the cost of the procedure is typically tax-deductible.
Our current pricing for PRP injections is about $600 CAD per injection site, depending on the location.
We understand that the price will be a deterrent for many patients but we don’t want cost to prevent patients who wish to have PRP treatment from getting care. We have partnered with Medicard Finance as a financing option for patients who want to spread their payments out over time. Please let us know if this is something you are interested in.