Hi everyone… my 18 year old son is a college baseball pitcher and was just diagnosed with a partial tear in his UCL (elbow). His orthopedic surgeon is going to try PRP injections and rehab before resorting to UCL reconstruction (Tommy John surgery). Anyhow, he mentioned that there is ongoing research into using PRP for arthritic conditions. He is also researching stem cell treatments. I found it all very fascinating and am curious if anyone here has ever heard of these approaches. The only person I know who has done PRP is a friend who had a complete tear of a tendon in her hamstring… it completely healed her.
I’m so sorry! That must be so hard for an athlete…
I’ve not read much about the treatment but what I understood is that it could help with trauma but not so much with inflammation without trauma… I stopped reading because it sounded too much like snake oil… (In the stories where it’s supposed to work on arthritis, I didn’t focus on trauma…)
I wonder if in people with autoimmune arthritis, the immune system would just continue to cause damage… undoing any healing the PRP might provide. My son (same one) had ITP when he was younger and his doctors told us they don’t do platelet transfusions for ITP because the body will just destroy the new platelets, making it useless. In my layperson mind, I’m thinking the same thing would apply here. Maybe??? I know it’s very successful in athletic injuries though, so we are hopeful for my son.
In itp the body is already breaking down platelets and it doesn’t differentiate between the donor platelets and your own…
From what I understood this is more a jumpstart to healing that the body uses for injury… Our inflammation isn’t from injury… it’s our immune system kicking into action… there’s no cut or tear to fix…
Platelets are pretty much the first to arrive at the scene of an injury after cells are broken and send out a distress signal…
I just recently had a PRP injection in my elbow because of a “tennis elbow” problem that began in March and became debilitating in August. The research involving PRP injections for elbow tendons is VERY promising. Elbows seem to be where the PRP success story really is, and the research keeps building in support of it for that joint. I’ve also read it’s fairly successful in patellar tendon problems of the knee. As for arthritis, the jury seems to be out. It seems like it’s hit or miss, and considering the cost (I paid $425, many charge close to $1000 and insurance rarely pays for it), I’d hate to pay that unless I was just desperate to avoid surgery. Based on my reading, it sounds like that’s why insurance isn’t on board yet. They want more uses and proof of where it does/doesn’t work.
I personally can’t say my PRP injection is successful yet. I am having some relief, but I have scaled back my upper body workouts considerably and found many work-arounds in the kitchen to avoid cutting/slicing so much. I’m only 5 weeks out though and still have 3 weeks of physical therapy approved by my insurance. I was told to not expect anything until near the 6 week mark, which would be next Wednesday.
Personally, I’m following the PRP and stem cell research very carefully. I’ve had loads of knee problems (9 surgeries in 20 yrs)–not just severe arthritis but also chronic patellar tendon issues. A knee replacement on the right is a guarantee with 5-7 yrs, and I’m only 45. The left knee has started failing this year, and we’ve discussed PRP or stem cell treatments for next summer, depending how large the cartilage defects grow over time. I have a history of extremely fast deterioration, so time will tell. I want all my ducks in a row though before I make any decisions.
Thankfully, I have a long history with my Orthopedics office and favorite Physical therapist (who’s also doing my elbow rehab now). He golfs with both surgeons a lot too (ha)! He actually discussed this last week while golfing with the one Dr who did my PRP injection. He agreed the success stories are REALLY stacking up, and I just need to be patient. He’s seen a number of them in his PT practice. I trust him, considering what he’s done for me and how honest & to the point he’s been with all of the knee crap these last 2 yrs.
As for PsA sufferers though??? I have no clue unfortunately and neither does my PT. My knee surgeon said all bets are off for those of us with inflammatory arthritis. It might be worth the money and effort to try though before surgery. The jury is still out on whether I truly have PsA or not, so I opted for trying PRP for the joint it’s working best in. I haven’t opted to do it for either knee yet though.
Lastly, my Orthopedics office is on the cutting edge of cartilage research/regeneration, PRP, and stem cell research. I trust them immensely and they’ve kept me walking the last 7 yrs. The good news is they say the stem cell solution isn’t far off either (a couple of years), but lots of research is needed before insurance will cover anything. Some are opting to try it in arthritic knees, but at $1200 per injection, I’m not sold on the idea yet. My surgeon has always been honest with me and isn’t in a hurry to cut anything open thankfully. I just need to weight the pros/cons and see how time is/isn’t in my favor. He’s always going to conferences discussing the latest/greatest in upcoming procedures, and he’s even pioneered some VERY cool stuff, so I feel blessed to be here in St. Louis with his practice.
With all of that said, to the original poster I’ll say good luck with your son’s situation, and I hope for the very best outcome.
Your one post makes me think hmm maybe there is something to this… I haven’t seen anything this focused on science and research before… so maybe there is hope yet! Thank you
Great information… thank you for sharing! Your dr sounds very much like my son’s… very involved in researching the latest techniques. I’ll let you all know how it goes for him… hopefully he’ll be a success story. Let us know if you start to see improvement in your elbow. Oh… and I agree about the cost… it’s very expensive! Fortunately the college. will cover all expenses that our insurance won’t cover, since he was hurt playing for the baseball team.
This is an interesting article about my son’s doctor helping an NFL player with stem cell treatment… http://13wham.com/health-matters/nfl-player-has-first-of-its-kind-stem-cell-procedure-at-urmc
That’s AWESOME that his college will pay for it. I hadn’t even considered that. I’ll let you know how my elbow turns out too. Lastly,thanks for sharing the link. I found it interesting reading, and it gives me even more hope for alternatives down the line.
This is all incredibly interesting. Thanks so much for sharing it and I do hope your son recovers really soon with no worries.
Keep in mind that when referring to PRP for arthritis, they referring to Osteoarthritis a much different beast than what we have
One thing I’ve learned from my son’s experience is that tendon damage can be very very difficult to see on imaging. He had an MRI arthrogram and even with the dye it took a highly skilled radiologist to read it. The reason I find this helpful is that I have had a swollen and painful Achilles’ tendon for a year but no one can see anything on imaging (ultrasound, MRI without dye). I have an appointment with a specialist in November who uses higher quality imaging - I’m anxious to finally get some answers. My current rheumy still diagnosed me with PSA based on the swelling and my other pain pattern, but I’m one who likes concrete evidence.
My orthopedist requests I always use a certain imaging center now, and I LOVE it. For one thing, we can compare arthrograms from year to year, but the best part is they use the highest “Tesla” power imaging machine. Not surprisingly, they’re expensive (ha)—so not all imaging centers want to pay for it. I think the one I go to is a “2 Tesla” output instead of the common “1 Tesla”—don’t quote me though. My surgeon flat out said he (& my knees) need all the help they can get to see whatever the heck is going on in there.
tntlamb–I agree completely. My problem is no one can tell yet if mine is osteo only, osteo in the knees but psoriatic other places, or some OTHER combination. It keeps life interesting.