Many PRP treatment variables are left up to individual doctors, so doctor selection may play a large role in whether or not platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is effective in treating a tendon condition.
Questions to Ask
When selecting a physician for platelet-rich plasma therapy, patients may want to ask:
- How does the doctor diagnose and assess the problem? Tendon damage should be verified with imaging technology (e.g. ultrasound) any time surgery or injections are being considered.
- What training does the doctor have performing PRP injections? Some experts recommend that a doctor offering PRP therapy has either participated in a formal training course or has had extensive one-on-one training with an experienced doctor.1
- Does the doctor use ultrasound, fluoroscopy, or computed tomography (CT scan) to guide injections, and does the doctor have training or certification to use these imaging technologies? Some experienced orthopedic and sports medicine physicians are able to make accurate injections to certain tendons without the need for imaging; however, imaging technologies may ensure that the injections are administered precisely.
- Does the doctor have experience treating tendon problems with PRP injections? What is his or her success rate?
- Are there any ongoing research studies investigating PRP’s effects on tendon healing for which the patient may qualify for?
Before administering platelet-rich plasma injections, a doctor should also explain the:
- Potential risks
- Possible benefits
- Steps of the procedure
- Follow-up protocol, which should include at least one follow-up appointment
- Expectations for recovery and timeframe for healing
- Cost (PRP injections are typically not covered by insurance)
The patient may be asked to sign an informed consent form that platelet-rich plasma therapy is an elective procedure with certain risks and side effects.
Injections of platelet-rich plasma to treat any type of joint pain are considered “experimental” by most insurance companies. A single treatment of one tendon or joint can cost $400 to $2,000, paid out-of-pocket by the patient.2-4 (If more than one joint is treated, the cost increases but typically does not double.). Patients may wish to check with their insurance company, or the physician’s billing office to get an accurate assessment of cost before receiving PRP treatment.