Platelet Rich plasma injections seem to be all the rage these days. Well, they don’t seem as popular as surgery, but they do seem to be recommended by more doctors. And many of those doctors have not tried prolotherapy with a simple dextrose solution.
Let me be clear, this is my prolotherapy diary, and while I imagine that someday there may be guest posts from others who have experienced prolotherapy as a patient, so far there are none. And I personally have not yet experienced Platelet Rich Plasma injections. So if you want to read about the experience frist hand, I can’t offer you that yet. What I can offer is a perspective from my own experience, my own cynical view of medicine, and two cents thrown in from my doctor who does not do PRP injections, as well.
My doctor told me he does not do PRP injections because he said the research has not yet shown that the results are dramatically better than prolotherapy with the basic “medicine,” as he calls the 15% dextrose solution he usually uses. PRP is a multistep process in that you supply the Platelet Rich Plasma. That means the doctor must draw blood, process it to extract the platelets, mix or create a solution which is then injected into your joint or area needing prolotherapy.
Additional steps mean it takes longer, turning a simple prolotherapy treatment into a several step and often a several day process which includes more than a single doctor visit. This cynic thinks that seems like a great way to charge more, and indeed I have heard that PRP injections can cost close to $1000 (and indeed brief research shows a range of $500-$2000) where most basic prolotherapy treatments are closer to $150-$500 depending on the doctor, the location, and the treatment.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I am all for anything that works and I can even see myself getting PRP injections at some point if basic prolotherapy does not work to heal an injury. However, as Occam’s Razor teaches us, in most things including medicine, the simplest answer is often the best. And so I do not see a reason to spend the additional money and time on PRP unless and until basic prolotherapy has been tried and found wanting. After all, all forms of prolotherapy are meant to stimulate the body to heal itself.
In conclusion, unless you are pressed for time and need to be healed in order to pitch in the playoffs, or you happen to have more time and money than you really need, my personal non-medical recommendation is to try prolotherapy first and if it does not heal your injuries, then try PRP injections. I have no doubt that they are effective as well, and they might even be more so. I just don’t have the time or money to burn, nor did we make the playoffs this year.