Doctors from around the country attend training sessions at the Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) to learn how to utilize stem cell and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapies. As part of the emerging field of regenerative medicine, PRP and stem cell therapies have a variety of limited applications right now. Both are used to treat musculoskeletal injuries, chronic pain, and a small number of aesthetic conditions, like alopecia.
A common question heard during ARMI training sessions is one of what constitutes an ideal candidate for PRP treatment. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer waiting on the shelf. Like all medical treatments, patients respond differently to PRP and stem cell injections. One patient might respond very well to PRP injections for chronic osteoarthritis pain. Another patient might experience only limited relief.
Rather than trying to figure out what the ideal candidate looks like, it makes more sense to discuss the types of patients who might elect to undergo PRP treatment. Below is a small sampling of those patients.
Patients Who Don’t Want Surgery
One of the first patient groups that comes to mind is the group hoping to avoid surgery. For example, consider the osteoarthritis patient who has found little relief in steroid injections, physical therapy, and pain medication. That patient might be looking at joint replacement surgery as a last result. PRP therapy is another option to look at instead.
Another scenario involves a pro athlete looking to get back into competition as soon as possible following an injury. Surgery could very well derail the athlete’s entire season. It could also end his or her career. For many athletes, PRP therapy is worth investigating if it can eliminate the need to go under the knife.
Patients Wary of a Pharmacological Approach
Next up are patients who, for one reason or another, are wary of the pharmacological approach to treating their conditions. Osteoarthritis patients are a good example once again. They are often treated with steroid injections which are, in and of themselves, potentially dangerous. They are followed by long-term pain medication prescriptions once steroid injections run their course.
There are plenty of patients who don’t like the idea of treating chronic osteoarthritis pain with drugs. And with the opioid crisis making headlines seemingly every day, more patients than ever before worry about getting hooked on the drugs they do take for pain. If PRP treatment can alleviate their pain, it is worth looking into.
Patients Having Trouble with Insurance Companies
Believe it or not, there are some patients who seek PRP treatment simply to avoid trouble with their insurance companies. Keep in mind that insurance companies have the bad habit of establishing treatment protocols doctors must follow in order to be reimbursed for their services. This takes decision-making power away from the doctor and puts it in the hands of the insurance company. This sort of thing does not sit well with patients. PRP therapy gives them a way out.
Because insurance companies do not pay for PRP treatments, said treatments are cash on the barrel transactions. Doctors and their patients make decisions among themselves regardless of what insurance companies might think. Patients get their treatments, doctors get paid, and insurance companies are left on the outside looking in.
There are many reasons patients choose PRP treatment over other options. From the doctor’s perspective, it is not really a question of what constitutes the ideal PRP candidate. Rather, it is a question of discussing the treatment as one option among many. When doctors and patients have open discussions, they can decide between themselves whether not PRP treatment is appropriate.