Blount Memorial regenerative medicine technique offers non-surgical relief for hip, knee and shoulder pain.
A state-of-the-art pain therapy commonly used to treat athletes is available at Blount Memorial. Called platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, therapy, the non-surgical treatment uses a patient’s own blood to heal the body, explains Blount Memorial board-certified interventional pain management physician Dr. Brian Wetherington.
“Basically, the physician spins the patient’s blood in a centrifuge [a tool used to separate blood into its components] to separate plasma and red blood cells, and then runs the plasma through the centrifuge to concentrate the platelets,” says Wetherington, one of the Blount Memorial physicians specially trained to perform PRP therapy. “Using ultrasound guidance, the physician then injects the platelet-rich plasma into the injured or arthritic joint or other irritated area.”
Since platelets are the major clotting tool in the blood and play a critical role in tissue repair and regeneration, delivering PRP directly to an injured area speeds up natural healing. The body responds to the PRP with an inflammatory process that can jumpstart the process of repairing tissue and restoring function, particularly in the knees, hips and shoulders.
“PRP therapy is a type of regenerative medicine focused on using the body to help heal itself,” says Wetherington. “The therapy could be a great option for a middle age patient with mild-to-moderate joint pain who is active—such as someone who does CrossFit or participates in Spartan races—isn’t ready for joint replacement and hasn’t found lasting relief from steroid injections.”
Insurance and Medicare currently do not reimburse for PRP therapy, which costs $699 per injection. In general, patients typically need at least two injections to experience relief and some patients may require a series of injections over time. Some PRP patients have reported up to a year of more of significant relief after undergoing the non-surgical therapy, according to Wetherington.
In Tennessee, PRP therapy is considered a type of alternative medicine and can be performed by any physician or nurse practitioner. No additional training in regenerative medicine is required. For this reason, Wetherington encourages those considering the therapy—or any regenerative medicine technique—to choose their provider wisely and ask questions about the health claims being made.
“There is a lot of misinformation out there about what regenerative medicine can do, and there are a lot of people performing this therapy who were brought into an office just to do injections,” he adds. “At Blount Memorial, we offer FDA-compliant PRP therapy, and all of the physicians performing the therapy received training in regenerative medicine. In addition, we have expertise in the most advanced injection techniques and in using imaging to ensure accuracy.”
For more information about PRP therapy at Blount Memorial or to schedule an initial consultation, call Dr. Wetherington at 865-984-3864.