Stem cell therapy is an exciting, but often misunderstood field. As such, it’s not surprising that many people confuse stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment. Though these two methods for treating injuries and pain share many similarities, they are not the same. Here, we’ll explain the differences between stem cell therapy vs PRP and provide key information about each procedure:
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Blood is composed of four main components: plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Unsurprisingly, platelet-rich plasma has a much higher concentration of platelets (about 5-10 times greater) than blood. PRP is beneficial for regenerative purposes because platelets contain natural sources of growth factors, as well as proteins and cytokines that stimulate the healing of bone and soft tissue. As such, PRP promotes cell repair, which in turn can lead to decreased inflammation and reduction in pain.
A PRP procedure consists of four stages:
- First, the doctor will draw some of the patient’s own blood.
- Second, the blood is spun in a centrifuge, which separates different components of the blood.
- Third, the doctor modifies the PRP formula to suit the needs of the patient.
- Fourth, the PRP is injected directly into the injured tissue.
On its own, PRP may be an effective treatment for acute conditions –– like sports injuries. This is one reason why some high-profile professional athletes have chosen PRP treatment as an alternative to surgery. PRP is often inappropriately used to address chronic issues, such as habitual joint pain. For chronic pain, it’s recommended to use stem cell therapy or stem cell therapy in combination with PRP.
Stem Cell Therapy
Doctors can use stem cell therapy to treat a wide variety of muscle injuries, chronic arthritis, soft tissue damage and back pain. Stem cells are the body’s “master cells.” They have the ability to develop into many different types of cells, and they assist in regenerating or replacing damaged cells throughout the body.
During a stem cell therapy procedure, a doctor will extract stem cells from the patient’s own body and inject those cells into the injured tissue. (Note, since PRP and stem cell therapy are autologous, they eliminate the possibility of disease transference and rejection.) The process is minimally invasive and can help treat or cure a number of issues from erectile dysfunction to neck pain.
PRP vs Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy and PRP are both biologics that can assist in the regeneration of damaged tissue. While both can be used to accomplish similar goals, PRP is not cell therapy, but rather a separate treatment option that should be reserved specifically to treat acute, low grade injuries. However, stem cell therapy and PRP are not mutually exclusive treatments. In fact, many patients who undergo stem cell therapy return to receive a PRP injection as a part of their follow-up treatment after the initial procedure. This only makes sense because stem cells and PRP naturally work together to potentially repair and regenerate damaged tissue.
Both PRP and stem cell therapy represent viable alternatives to surgery. As opposed to surgeries on the knee, shoulder, or back, which can result in extensive and painful recovery periods, patients who choose stem cell therapy may be able to return to work after a couple of days. Athletes may be able to resume sporting activities in about 4-6 weeks after the procedure –– depending on a number of factors.
If you’re curious about stem cell therapy, then contact us here. At ThriveMD, we’ll review your history, listen to your concerns, and answer your questions to help you choose a treatment solution that offers you the most benefits.