Ainsworth Institute, serving New York, Brooklyn, Bronx, and surrounding areas
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) & Regenerative Medicine
If you suffer from osteoarthritis of the thumbs, knees and hips, rotator cuff and labral tears in the shoulders, tendonitis, or a variety of sports injuries, this groundbreaking treatment can help you. Platelet rich plasma, aka PRP, has been used for almost 20 years to treat all kinds of soft tissue injuries and joint pain with impressive results.
What is PRP?
In a nutshell, Platelet Rich Plasma (or PRP) is a procedure that separates the platelets from a patient’s blood and reintroduces them into the injured or arthritic joint. Platelets have special regenerative properties and also attract the assistance of stem cells. This delivery of a high concentration of platelets essentially kick starts and intensifies the body’s natural healing and regenerative processes.
PRP has been proven to reduce pain, improve range of motion, repair tissue, and help return patients to their normal lives. What’s more, PRP can also be an effective preventative measure against surgery by repairing injured tissues before the damage becomes irreversible.
PRP is an autologous concentrate of platelets and growth factors within a relatively small volume of blood plasma designed to promote healing and regeneration. This treatment modality is effective for use in soft tissue and musculoskeletal injuries, such as tendonitis and ligament tears. PRP is particularly effective in treating injured areas of the body where blood supply is scant or diminished, making it difficult for the body to deliver endogenous platelets and growth factors to heal itself. Injections of PRP to these areas can essentially circumvent a decrease in vascular access and force healing in the following conditions:
- Lateral Epicondylitis – Tennis Elbow
- Medial Epicondylitis – Golfer’s Elbow
- Knee Pain secondary to OA and soft tissue injuries
- Hip Pain secondary to OA and labral tears
- Achilles Tendonitis
- Patellar Tendonitis – Jumper’s Knee
- Plantar Fasciitis
- OA – Thumbs
- Rotator Cuff and Labral Tears of the Shoulder
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Peri-operatively with bones grafts, maxillofascial surgery dental implants
- Preoperatively and intraoperatively for total and partial joint replacements
- Soft tissue injuries such as meniscal, ligament and muscle tears (limited evidence – animal models only)
Platelet Rich Plasma is a groundbreaking treatment option for treating painful orthopedic injuries and conditions that have traditionally required surgery to correct. In cases where surgery is unavoidable, PRP can be used to enhance surgical repair.
In the procedure, platelets from the patient’s blood are concentrated, harvested, and re-injected into the injured area or arthritic joint. Once introduced, the platelets release substances known as growth factors that lead to improved natural tissue healing. Platelets initiate repair and attract the assistance of stem cells. This is known regenerative injection therapy.
The injected platelets release the growth factors and facilitate the process of regeneration and remodeling of the damaged area, thereby strengthening and expediting the healing process.
The therapeutic effect of PRP is thought to be facilitated through the release of a variety of growth factors:[i]
- PLT-derived growth factor AB (PDGF-AB)
- Transforming growth factor β1 (TGF β1)
- Fibroblast growth factor (FGF)
- Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)
- Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF)
- Epithelial growth factor (EGF)
- Insulin-like growth factor 1&2 (ILGF)
- Keratinocyte growth factor (KGF)
In addition to these growth factors, PRP contains the chemokine Interleukin 8 (IL-8) which is believed to promote angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels) and improve blood flow.
These factors are located within the PLT’s themselves and are released upon activation, or in the case of PRP injection – into the injured body part to facilitate a focal and highly localized healing process.
PRP also contains the three proteins in blood known to act as cell adhesion molecules for osteoconduction as well as serve as a matrix for bone, connective tissue and epithelial migration:
What are the benefits?
PRP can be used to treat the following conditions:
- Regeneration of cartilage in osteoarthritis of the thumbs, knees and hips
- Non-surgical repair for rotator cuff and labral tears in the shoulders
- Sports injuries, including tennis elbow & golfer’s elbow
- Ligament & meniscal tears
Published studies on PRP have shown:
- Restoration and smoothing of rough cartilage
- Improved range of motion
- Resolution of pain in osteoarthritis of the hips, knees and shoulders
- Restoration and smoothing of rough cartilage
Your physician will first draw some of your blood. This is much the same procedure you encounter when donating blood or getting lab work done. The blood is then transferred to a specialized container that has been pre-prepared with certain chemicals that aid in the separation process. The container is placed into a centrifuge and the sample is spun at high speed for 10 to 20 minutes. When this procedure is completed, the centrifuge will have separated your blood into two distinct reservoirs within the container.
One reservoir will contain plasma and the separated, concentrated platelets at the bottom (the platelet rich plasma).
The other reservoir will contain the rest of the blood which will be discarded.
The platelet “rich” portion is extracted into a syringe and prepared for injection into the problem area.
Restrictions – Before the procedure
Do not take Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications (NSIAD’s) for 1-week prior to the procedure – this includes aspirin, ibuprofen, Naproxen, etc. Do Not Take Steroids of any kind for 10-days prior to the procedure – this includes prednisone, Medrol dose packs, cortisone and cortisone injections.
Restrictions – After the procedure
Do Not Take Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications (NSIAD’s) and/or Steroids for 1-month after the procedure.
Getting back to normal
For the first 48 hours after the procedure we recommend you carry on as normal, but with no strenuous activity or exercise. After 10-12 days, you can start light exercise, but return to stressful activity only after six weeks.
**Returning to stressful activity before six weeks will result in incomplete healing of the treated tissue.
How does it work?
If you’ve ever donated blood, or had blood drawn for a lab test, you’ve already experienced the extent of what’s involved with PRP therapy. Depending on what is being treated or how many areas of the body treatment is needed on, between 30cc and 60cc of blood will be drawn up. Your blood is then transferred into a collection device which is then placed into a specialized centrifuge which spins it at high speeds for 10-20 minutes in order to separate out the platelets. The platelets are extracted by syringe and injected into the problem area. Typically, between 5-8cc of PRP is extracted and ready for use. Our doctors will take a small amount of the platelet poor plasma (PPP) that is left over and mix back into the PRP – this is because PPP is rich with a special healing molecule called alpha-2-macroglobulin or A2M. This special molecule also promotes healing and works MUCH quicker than PRP so our patient experience results considerably faster than those that get only PRP.
Blood draw, spin in a centrifuge, and put right back into your body…it’s that simple!!!
There are a ton of different companies on the market for collecting and processing PRP…all claiming to be the best. So how do you which one really is the best. Dr. Hunter doesn’t just claim to be a leader in regenerative medicine, he actually is. He’s been doing research on regenerative medicine for 20 years and has a number of publications to his credit – particularly on the subject of PRP. Most recently, he published an article comparing all of the different methods for collecting and processing PRP to determine which has the highest cell count and the concentration of the necessary growth factors. Click on the link below to see for yourself below.
Compare PRP Systems
Is PRP right for me?
If traditional treatments and therapies have not provided you relief, PRP may be an option. It’s less invasive, less aggressive, and less expensive than surgery. The procedure involves minimal to no scarring, and alleviates further degeneration of tissues that could otherwise require a surgical intervention.
Contact the Ainsworth Institute to set up an initial evaluation to find out if you are a candidate for PRP.
How many treatments will I need?
Most patients require two treatments. Patients with severe problems may require more.
When will I feel better?
The positive effects of the injection can occur within a week. This usually happens with torn tendons/ligaments and bursitis. Most patients, though, begin to see results in approximately six weeks, and gradually improve as the body’s healing process is strengthened by the therapy.
Often, the body purposely creates inflammation around the injection site in order to lure additional assistance from growth factors and inflammatory markers. In these cases, discomfort can persist in the patient for up to 10 days.
Other potential risks include infection from drawing blood, or the process of the injection itself.
It’s important to remember:
While PRP has been proven effective, it is still technically experimental. Patients often respond well to more traditional avenues of therapy and treatment. The Ainsworth Institute recommends that PRP be pursued only after conservative treatments have been exhausted (physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and rest).
As with anything considered experimental, results may vary and not every patient will have success.
In a 2008 study, Mishra reported on 140 patients with tennis and golf elbow who failed to respond to conservative treatments (physical therapy, medications, etc) and were treated with PRP. All the patients in this study were being considered for surgery. Patient were given a single treatment of PRP and were followed for 3 years. The PRP treated patients reported a 93% reduction in pain at 38 months post-injection. Other studies have attempted to explore PRP and establish it as an effective treatment for regenerating cartilage in osteoarthritis.
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 Kevy SV, Jacobson MS. Preparation of growth factors enriched autologous platelet gel. Proceedings of the 27th Annual Meeting of Service Biomaterials, April 2001.
 Pourcho AM, Smith J, Wisniewski SJ, Sellon JL. Intraacrticlar platelet-rich plasma injection in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: Review and recommendations. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2014;93:S108-21.
 Al-Ajlouni J, Awidi A, Samara O, et al. Safety and efficacy of autologous intra-articular platelet lysates in early and intermediate knee osteoarthritis in humans: a prospective open-label study. Clin J Sport Med. 2014 – Publication Pending
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 Tetschke E, Rudolf M, Lohmann, CH, et al. Autologous proliferative therapies in recalcitrant lateral epicondylitis. Am J Phys Rehabil. 2014 – Pending Publication
 Thanasas C, Papadimitriou G, Charalambidis C, et al. Platelet-rich plasma versus autologous whole blood for the treatment of chronic lateral elbow epicondylitis: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Am J Sports Med. 2011;39:2130-4.
 Gosens T, Peerbooms JC, van Laar W, den Oudsten BL. Ongoing positive effect of platelet-rich plasma versus corticosteroid injection in lateral epicondylitis: A double-blind randomized controlled trial with 2-year follow-up. Am J Sports Med. 2011;39:1200-8.
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The Science Behind Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
The thinking behind PRP is that since PLT’s are the body’s nature mechanism for healing, if one were to concentrate and direct these healing agents into a particular area of injury, one could effectively focus and even accelerate the restoration process.