PRP injections are the latest, and by some reports greatest, of treatments available for overuse injuries. Used to treat tennis elbow, patellar tendonitis, Achilles pain, and other orthopedic conditions, PRP has been touted by some to be the magic cure for these challenging-to-treat conditions.
Unfortunately, a growing body of scientific evidence is failing to demonstrate that PRP is better than other standard treatments, and may in fact be worse. What's more, is that PRP is very expensive, and usually must be paid for by the patient as most insurance plans will not cover this unproven treatment.
A recent article in the New York Times recommended patients seek other standard treatments, rather than foot the bill for PRP injections. They cite a soon to be published study that compared PRP injections with injections of plain blood for treatment of tennis elbow. Proponents of PRP claim it works by concentrating the healing stimulants found in blood, and deliver these to the site of injury by injection. Both whole blood and PRP contain these "growth factors," but the PRP has it in much higher concentrations. One would expect the higher concentrations of growth factors in PRP to deliver better healing, but in fact, the opposite was found to be the case.
Certainly one study does not prove a treatment obsolete, but a growing number of studies are questioning how effective PRP is, and if it's better than other treatments more readily available.
Have you tried PRP? Leave your comments below!
Source: "Does Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy Really Work?" New York Times; January 26, 2011