Introduction to PRP
PRP is a modern treatment modality that utilizes your body’s own healing components to speed up healing, reduce risk of infection, reduce pain and bruising, avoid surgery and reduce recovery time. At our practice, PRP administration can be performed in office. PRP is relatively new in the world of medicine and currently most insurance companies do not cover this. However, HSA’s (health spending accounts) may be used to purchase this.
The cost is $500, due at the time of the PRP administration.
Your own blood contains small solid components called platelets, white blood cells and red blood cells. Platelets, as the name PRP implies, are the most pivotal in post-surgical healing. The platelets contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in healing. Platelets are also responsible for several other processes, including: angiogenesis (formation of blood vessels), cell migration (tissue development), proliferation (rapid production of cells), differentiation (simple cell becoming complex cell), and clot formation. Leukocytes, commonly referred to as white blood cells, also release growth factors and reduce infection risk. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to tissues. However, red blood cells contain iron which causes inflammation.
Inflammation contributes to an increase in pain, therefore, the red blood cells are spun out of the PRP and not used in this process.
The Process of Administration
To start the process, we collect a small sample of your blood (just like a lab test sample). This is obtained here in the office. This blood is placed into a centrifuge to separate the platelets and leukocytes from other cells in the blood. The concentrated platelet rich plasma (PRP) can now be collected from your sample. This liquid is injected back into the body at the area of injury. Because your own blood is used, there is no risk of a transmissible infection and a very low risk of allergic reaction.
The Science Behind Stem Cells
Stem cells have the potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. In many tissues, they serve as an internal repair system, dividing multiple times to replenish other cells. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell. Similar to PRP, stem cells help create a matrix for new and existing cells to help repair damage at a cellular level. The results are not able to be seen on an x-ray, for example. Blood stem cells have been transplanted for decades, but only for life threatening illness such as cancer or after chemotherapy. All stem cell donors go through a screening process determined by the FDA- Food and Drug Administration and American Association of Tissue Banks.
Mesenchyme stem cells are the most common type being tested right now. These cells can be used without fear of rejection because they do not possess the surface antigens that induce a rejection response. They also may suppress the immune system. There remains a tremendous amount of research to define the use, safety, and ethical application of stem cell medicine. There are currently many studies in the US on stem cells. Some studies suggest that stem cell therapy is safe, but is still not known if it will work or be a more effective and cost effective than what is already available. It is imperative that you as a patient understand that receiving stem cell treatments is not totally understood and there is incomplete science at present for potential and unanticipated complications or side effects. Very few therapies other than bone marrow transplants have been shown to be effective. It is only through complete honesty and transparency that you, the patient, can make informed decisions to undergo these procedures. Injecting stem cells into a patient might solve the problem, do nothing, or might seed a tumor. It will take years of clinical research and observation to document the outcomes. Again, our promise is to inform you, the patient that the science is still incomplete and the outcomes are not proven to date.
The Process of Administration
The administration process of stem cells is very similar to PRP, except that no blood draw is necessary. As mentioned above, the stem cells are derived from very carefully screened donors. Stem cells are housed within a liquid medium. This liquid is injected into the body at the area of injury. Since there is no surface antigen contained within the stem cells, there is a very low risk of allergic reaction.