Platelet-rich plasma therapy, a.k.a. PRP therapy, has become a widely trusted form of regenerative medicine that many pain management clinics now offer alongside stem cell therapy. The therapy involves extracting plasma, creating additional platelets within the plasma using a centrifuge, and then reintroducing it to the bloodstream.
A great way to better understand this therapy is by looking at an example. Just last month, an osteoarthritis patient contacted the New York Daily News “Running Doc” seeking advice on osteoarthritis treatment for a runner.
Letter to sports medicine specialist
A man identified as Jerry L. from New York City, who claims to be an organic chemist at New York University, wrote to Dr. Lewis G. Maharam through the newspaper. Jerry explained that he suffers from osteoarthritis but regularly runs 10K’s (just over 6 miles). He has been running for four decades.
Jerry writes that running has become incredibly uncomfortable, to the extent that he asked his physician about having his knees replaced.
He reports trying viscosupplementation, which he found to be more helpful for range-of-motion than for pain. He said he wrote to the paper because his doctor advised him to get PRP therapy; but that since he was a scientist, he was interested in evidence.
Letter to knee pain patient
Dr. Maharam wrote back to Jerry with a strong advocation of platelet-rich plasma: “I believe PRP is the greatest advance for musculative health since the MRI was invented.” He mentioned that he has used it with many patients and has seen tremendous results. He notes that research studies on this form of medicine are scarce but that physicians who offer regenerative medicine often work collaboratively and exchange outcomes.
The Running Doc said that he has found in his own practice that osteoarthritis patients will not see substantial improvement without at least three treatments. He said that he puts about three days between each treatment since that is the approximate platelet lifespan. During that time, stem cells that naturally occur in the body are signaled to enter the area and regenerate the tissue.
Dr. Maharam notes that sports medicine research journals are starting to publish findings that look positive for osteoarthritis. The evidence shows that you want to use at least three treatments. There is disagreement on the proper interval length between treatments, but “more and more Level 1 evidence is backing up our clinical experience” that intervals should be between two and five days.
If you are experiencing knee pain and don’t want it to interfere with your running or any other aspect of your active lifestyle, talk to us about PRP therapy today.