When to Use Prolotherapy and When to Use Platelet Rich Plasma

Gary B. Clark, MDGary B. Clark, MD

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy is a particularly hot topic, nowadays—in the laboratory, the clinic, and on the street. A very recent New York Times (NYT) article describes how two Pittsburg Steelers “used their own blood in an innovative injury treatment before winning the Super Bowl.” The article goes on to cite several other sports figures who have also been successfully treated in this fashion. It refers to PRP Therapy as a means of delivering a “growth-factor cocktail” to such injuries as “tennis elbow” or “knee tendinitis” (sic).

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy is a particularly hot topic, nowadays—in the laboratory, the clinic, and on the street. A very recent New York Times (NYT) article describes how two Pittsburg Steelers “used their own blood in an innovative injury treatment before winning the Super Bowl.”2 The article goes on to cite several other sports figures who have also been successfully treated in this fashion. It refers to PRP Therapy as a means of delivering a “growth-factor cocktail” to such injuries as “tennis elbow” or “knee tendinitis” (sic).

It is gratifying—if not somewhat humorous—that the advocates for this “new” PRP treatment describe how this “nonsurgical” therapy works by using “the body’s own cells to help it heal”—as if Prolotherapists have not been doing exactly the same thing since the mid-1930’s. And the same PRP advocates tout their noninvasive technique du jour as providing better cost-effectiveness compared to surgery, thereby making PRP Therapy hugely attractive for preferential insurance reimbursement—while standard Prolotherapy remains non-reimbursed by most healthcare insurance programs!

The truth of the matter is that Prolotherapy doctors have been using the earliest version of PRP Therapy for years—achieving all of PRP Therapy’s basic positive attributes, albeit less potent to some degree but at a very small fraction of the cost.

The NYT article goes on to say that PRP Therapy “has the potential to revolutionize not just sports medicine but all of orthopedics”—possibly “obviating surgery and shortening rehabilitation.” Isn’t that one reason why Prolotherapists have been calling our style of practice “Orthopedic Medicine”—treating joint injury and dysfunction while protecting our patients, whenever possible, from more invasive, expensive, and potentially debilitating orthopedic surgery by using the nonsurgical, regenerative approach of Prolotherapy?

Read the entire article at The Journal of Prolotherapy


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