PRP (platelet-rich-plasma) and stem cell injections can be used to treat some of the same ailments, but they harness the body’s powers of self-healing in different ways. Let’s take a look at some of the major similarities and differences between these two orthobiologic treatments.
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What Are the Similarities Between PRP and Stem Cell Injections?
Both PRP and stem cell injections pose a low risk of infection, making them a sought after alternative to certain surgeries. This is because both procedures are minimally invasive and harness the power of the patient’s own cells. PRP and stem cell injections can be used to treat some of the same conditions and in some cases, are even used together.
During both procedures, cells are first harvested from the patient’s own body, processed, and then injected directly into the pain or injury site. These are outpatient procedures. Whether you receive PRP or stem cell injections, you may feel some soreness after treatment and you will need to restrict heavy exercise for a few days afterwards, to give you body time to heal.
Patients typically start to see results a few weeks after these treatments and can continue to see results up to 6 months after receiving the injections. If you have an aversion to needles or have some anxiety about undergoing treatment, your doctor can prescribe you something to help you relax.
What Are the Differences Between PRP and Stem Cell Injections?
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells. When stem cells are injected into damaged tissue, they differentiate, divide, and participate in cell signaling, to heal the cartilage and tissues in the surrounding area.
Stem cell injection treatments take about 2 hours. The stem cells are most commonly harvested from bone marrow in the patient’s hip using ultrasound imaging guidance.
PRP is a concentration of platelets, the body’s own healing response to injuries. Platelets release growth factors that facilitate tissue repair and help blood to clot when you get a cut or scrape.
For PRP injections, a small amount of blood (less than 2 ounces) is drawn and then spun in a centrifuge, resulting in the concentrated PRP. This treatment takes a little less time than stem cell injection therapy, lasting about an hour to an hour and a half.
What Do Stem Cell Injections Treat?
- Damaged cartilage (Chondromalacia)
- Osteochondral joint defects
- Degenerative arthritis (Osteoarthritis) particularly in the shoulder, elbow, knee, or ankle
What Conditions Do PRP Injections Treat?
- Ligament sprains such as an ACL, MCL, or ankle sprain
- Shoulder labral injuries
- Tendon damage
- Ligament damage
- Pulled or strained muscles
- Muscle fibrosis (especially in the back)
What Conditions Can Both PRP and Stem Cell Injections Treat?
- Jumper’s knee, tennis elbow, and other forms of tendonitis
- Rotator cuff tears
- Overuse injuries
- Inflammatory diseases
- Spinal injuries
- Herniated spinal discs
Want more information about PRP and/or stem cell injections? Book a consultation with an Aspire Regenerative clinician and find out if these treatments could be right for you.