PRP injection or cortisone injection? - Which is the best option?

PRP injection vs cortisone injection

Administering cortisone injections for immediate pain relief has always been the first choice doctors make to help their patients.

However, PRP injections are proving to be a much better alternative to cortisone injections. PRP therapy can help relieve symptoms. 

What are PRP injections?

PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma, a compound that doctors get from your bloodstream through a simple process. They take a blood sample and spin it with a centrifugal device. In response to the spinning motion, the heavier red blood cells settle to the bottom. The other particles, such as plasma and white blood cells, accumulate. Doctors use aspiration methods to extract the platelet-rich plasma.

PRP injections contain the resulting plasma, which is filled with a concentration of growth factors, mesenchymal stem cells, cytokines and other factors. When introduced into the treatment site, it accelerates the healing of muscles, tendons and joints. 

What are cortisone injections?

Cortisone injections contain corticosteroids and are recommended for joint pain, tendonitis and similar problems. These drugs work against inflammation and pain. By causing these reactions, they effectively prevent the healing process.

  • Without pain, you will continue to use the affected muscles, tendons or joints as before. As a result, they cannot heal and you will suffer more damage if you do not recover from the injury. You may also inadvertently cause additional wear and tear on surrounding bones, ligaments and tissues. 
  • Inflammation is the body's healing process. It floods the area with stem cells and growth factors to repair damaged tissue. By preventing inflammation, cortisone injections prevent healing. 3-6 months later, the pain and recognition are likely to worsen. 

Benefits of PRP injection

PRP injections, together with their bioactive proteins and other healing agents, promote the growth of new cells and support tissue regeneration. In fact, the PRP serum can also repair old wounds in the muscles and tendons by stimulating the body's healing responses. New blood vessels form in the hardened scar tissue, so repair is accelerated again. PRP treatments can work for up to 12 months after administration. 

Cortisone injection side effects

Cortisone injections not only mask pain and difficulty moving, but also have other unwanted side effects that you should be aware of. Because of these harmful effects, your doctor may limit the number of doses you can safely receive. 

  • Cushing's syndrome, or hypercortisolism, is a condition caused by high levels of cortisone in the body. This condition leads to unwanted hair growth, obesity, weakened bones and infertility. 
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Corticosteroids can form crystals in the joints, which can make patients more painful
  • Infections at the treatment site
  • Nerve damage
  • Thinning of the skin and soft tissues at the treatment site
  • In extreme cases, severe and irreversible damage to bones near the injury site
  • Optional operation is only postponed. Once the effects are gone, you may need to look for other options.

Side effects of PRP injection

PRP treatment is a relatively gentle and low-risk procedure. No synthetic active ingredient is used, so that intolerance can be ruled out. Overcorrection is also not possible. Minor side effects such as redness, swelling and bruising may occur after PRP treatment. However, these usually disappear on their own shortly after treatment. 

  • PRP plasma is a natural compound made from your blood and is unlikely to be rejected by your body. 
  • Because the treatment is performed under carefully sterilized conditions, no side effects or infections are likely to occur. 
  • PRP therapy is a long-term treatment. As your body recovers, you will see positive results after 4 to 6 months. 
  • You may find that the recovery is so effective that you can avoid surgery completely. 

Cost factor

The only possible disadvantage of PRP injections is the cost factor. Health insurance companies are generally willing to cover or reimburse the cost of cortisone injections. The surgeries are also covered.

However, PRP treatment is not covered by health insurance. The reason for this; PRP injections are performed from the blood of individual patients and do not have standardized results.

However, there are some private and public health insurances that cover the costs and bill them as individual health services. 

Given the choice between cortisone injections and PRP injections, choosing the latter may be a better idea. You can avoid all the potential side effects of corticosteroids and achieve more effective and lasting results. Talk to your doctor about all the options available today. 

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