Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections for Osteoarthritis and Chronic Tendinitis

TOCA (The Orthopedic Clinic Association) patients can now benefit from a treatment called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections. This non-surgical treatment can reduce pain, providing long-term relief from osteoarthritis and chronic tendinitis. PRP injections use your own body’s natural growth factors to promote healing and alleviate pain.

What is osteoarthritis?

In healthy joints, there is a naturally occurring process that continuously breaks down and repairs the cartilage. In osteoarthritis, there is an imbalance in this natural breakdown and repair process. As we age, the smooth surface of the cartilage begins to deteriorate and becomes worn out. Eventually, small pieces of cartilage break off, the synovium (joint lining) is damaged, the underlying bones thicken (forming bone spurs) and the joint becomes painful and stiff.

What is chronic tendinitis?

Tendinitis is inflammation, irritation and swelling of a tendon, which is the tissue that joins muscle to bone. Tendinitis is typically caused by joint overuse or not properly conditioning the joint prior to activity. Sometimes with overuse, these tendons will break or tear, and then scar tissue will form. Scar tissue is not as flexible as the tendons themselves, and with continued use, inflammation and pain will occur. As we age, our bodies do not repair these injured tendons as easily as when we were young. We produce fewer “repair” cells as we get older, so it takes longer to recover. Some people can develop chronic, or long-term, tendinitis as a result. Chronic tendinitis lacks any true inflammation in the tendon, and this is why corticosteroid injections do not work for this condition. The specific areas that are most often affected are the shoulders, ankles, elbows and feet.

How can PRP injections help me?

PRP injections harness the healing power of your own blood to reduce joint pain caused by inflammation. It may actually repair your damaged joint lining, as well as slowing down further wear and tear of your cartilage. The PRP injection contains valuable proteins and growth factors that your body may use to begin repairing cells and tissue.

How many injections will I receive?

Each individual’s treatment plan will vary, however a typical patient requires one or two injections a minimum of four weeks apart.

What are the risks?

PRP injections use platelet-rich plasma to boost your body’s ability to heal. The plasma comes from your own blood, so there is no chance of your body rejecting it. At the injection site, there is a very small risk of infection and a chance that some bruising will occur.

How should I prepare for a PRP injection?

Seven days before your PRP injection, do not take any anti-inflammatory medicine.

  • Do not take medicines like Motrin, Advil, Aleve and Naprosyn.

The day of your PRP injection, drink as much water as you can.

  • The more hydrated you are, the easier it will be to draw your blood.

What should I expect during a PRP injection?

The PRP injection is actually a relatively simple process:

Step 1: We take a small amount of healthy blood from your arm.

Step 2: We separate the platelets and plasma from the rest of your blood using a special machine.

Step 3: We inject the platelet-rich plasma into the injured area. This is usually done under ultrasound guidance.

Remember, we only use your blood during a PRP injection.

What can I expect after my PRP injection?

  • The treated area will be numb for about an hour.
  • It is normal to have a significant increase in pain and stiffness in the area for the few days following the injection.
  • After the numbness wears off, you may move the affected area, but avoid activities that cause increased pain.
  • Do not take any anti-inflammatory medicine for at least four weeks following the procedure.
  • For pain, take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or medicine prescribed by your doctor.
  • For the first 24 hours, ice only if needed for 10 to 20 minutes every two to three hours.
  • After one to two weeks, you can resume physical therapy as directed by your physician.
  • Call your doctor immediately if you experience unbearable pain, bleeding or signs of infection (i.e. streaking, fever or chills).
  • It typically takes at least 4 weeks until patients notice improvement with pain and function, and 3-6 months for maximal benefit.

What should I do if I think I am a candidate for PRP?

  • If you live in the Phoenix Valley, we recommend scheduling an appointment for a consultation so that we can look at your radiology films (X-rays) and examine you to determine if you are a good candidate. Please call 602-277-6211 to schedule a consultation.
  • If you live more than two or three hours away, feel free to send us your images (X-rays and/or MRI) records to review. Please remember to include your name, phone number and/or email address, and we will contact you with our recommendation within seven to ten business days.

Please work with your local health care professional to send the physicians at TOCA the following information:

  1. Recent X-rays and/or MRI (no more than a few months old)
  1. Medical records (pertaining to your injury)

PRP therapy services are offered at 4 TOCA Valley Locations:

MesaPhoenixScottsdale & Tempe

To schedule a consultation at any TOCA PRP location call: 602-277-6211