Pain after a PRP injection can vary significantly. Injections into the knee, shoulder, or elbow joint usually cause mild swelling and discomfort. On the other hand, injections of PRP into muscles or tendons can be more painful and cause discomfort for two to three days or longer. You may experience some pain and tenderness in the area of the injection for a few days.
This pain and swelling can last for three to seven days, and then the movement and comfort of the joint should gradually increase over the course of two weeks. Generally speaking, PRP injections are not painful, but this may depend on the patient or the area of the body where the injection is given. Your doctor may recommend a local anesthetic to control any discomfort. General anesthesia is not usually used in conjunction with PRP therapy.
PRP injections typically do not cause significant side effects, but since it involves drawing blood, it is important to eat before the procedure to avoid feeling lightheaded. The relief from a PRP injection is not immediate, unlike with a cortisone injection. After the PRP therapy session, it is recommended that patients rest on the day of the procedure and limit use of the injection site for two to three days afterwards. However, it is important to move around to help the joint recover as the injection is absorbed by the tissues surrounding it.
The actual procedure takes less than two hours and if you are feeling well and your job does not require strenuous activity, you can usually return to work. However, it is still recommended that you take it easy and rest for two or three days after treatment in order to stimulate a healing response within your body. PRP injections are not covered by most insurance plans, so there will usually be a fee associated with this service. In addition to helping heal injured tissue, some studies have shown that PRP injections reduce pain and increase mobility in people with rotator cuff injuries.
Dermatologists and hair replacement experts also use PRP injections to treat a type of hair loss called androgenic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness). Although equipment used to produce PRP and the injections themselves have been approved by the FDA, this procedure is considered investigational and has not been officially approved by the FDA for most uses. Post-surgical PRP injections have expanded to help heal muscles, tendons and ligaments, as procedures in these tissues have notoriously long recovery times. If you receive it for cosmetic reasons such as hair loss, your insurance probably won't cover it.
While there is some data to support the use of PRP injections in certain clinical situations, there are other data that question whether this is more beneficial than traditional treatment. PRP injections are used to treat tendon tears, tendinitis, muscle injuries, arthritis-related pain, and joint injuries.