Platelet Rich Plasma, or PRP, is becoming well known these days, with many professional athletes using it to return to play faster and with many weekend warriors following their lead. But for some, there is either an early impression that the PRP injection didn’t work, or their PRP actually fails to help resolve the problem. Why does this happen and what’s next?
The first thing to understand is that few physicians possess the technical expertise to prepare PRP manually in their offices (every Regenexx Network Provider does). Hence, most doctors purchase automated centrifuges to reduce complexity and costs. These are push button machines that utilizer kits that the doctor buys. What this typically means is that all the doctors know about the PRP is where to put the kit and where the “On” button is located on the machine.
Believe it or not, there are many types of PRP out there. From the patient’s perspective, this falls into three categories:
In our extensive clinical experience, sometimes PRP shots are just a bad fit for the problem being treated. For example, PRP can produce great results when used to treat mild knee arthritis, but can often fail when used to treat moderate or severe arthritis. For the latter more severe variety, we’ve noticed that better results can be obtained with high concentration amber PRP or stem cells. Other problems that may be too severe for PRP include bigger tendon or ligament tears. These again may respond to stem cell injections. If they’re massive tears, they may require surgery.Another reason PRP may fail is due to the wrong type used for the problem. Regrettably, once a doctor makes an investment in a specific automated machine that produces a specific PRP type, that’s all he or she usually has to use. However, the broad scope of patient problems aren’t one sized fits all. For example, older patients have less potent platelets and may need much higher concentrations injected. Another example is that red PRP may not be the best fit for problems like knee arthritis. Regenexx providers can custom tailor prp preparations to best match the patient and the condition.
PRP failure may also result from a doctor who is inexperienced in using the technology. For example, many physicians who inject toxic anesthetics like Marcaine / Bupivicaine, or harmful high dose steroids, may continue to use these noxious drug chemicals with PRP, counteracting much of its healing effects. Lastly, PRP should only be injected under imaging guidance like ultrasound and/or fluoroscopy to ensure that the platelets are getting to the exact spots where they’re needed. Unfortunately, many older physicians and surgeons have never been trained in the proper use of guidance technologies, leaving them to perform blind injections that are likely to miss the mark.
The upshot? PRP is great stuff and it usually works well when the right type is used for the right problem. However, like any medical technology, it can fail. If PRP didn’t work for you, see if you might need a different type, a more experienced provider, or another technology that packs more punch, like the Regenexx patented stem cell protocol.
About the Author
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…