Using Your Blood for Natural Healing

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Even after having surgery for a sports-related groin injury, recovery was slow for Megan Cortazzo, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist with UPMC. A fellow physician suggested platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy — and her results were so positive that she now offers the service to patients.

What is Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy?

PRP therapy is a type of regenerative injection therapy (RIT) that promotes the healing of injured or deteriorated tissue. “Platelets are rich in growth factors that stimulate healing,” explains Dr. Cortazzo. “We draw a small quantity of the patient’s blood and spin it in a special centrifuge machine. The process extracts platelets, which we then inject at the point of injury or inflammation.”

PRP use by professional athletes has generated tremendous interest in the procedure.

Who Should Use PRP Therapy?

PRP therapy can be an effective alternative to surgery for patients with a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Chronic tennis elbow (tendinosis)
  • Mild to moderate rotator cuff tears
  • Chronic ankle sprains
  • Mild arthritis of the knee

For best results, Dr. Cortazzo recommends combining PRP therapy with physical therapy.

Is PRP Therapy Covered by Insurance?

Currently, medical insurance does not cover PRP therapy, because it is a relatively new treatment option.  “Although it’s a self-pay procedure, many patients feel it’s worthwhile because it can eliminate lost work time and the cost of a deductible for surgery,” explains Dr. Cortazzo. “Most of all, they want the relief from pain it offers.”

physical medicine rehab

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) provides physician services at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute and numerous outpatient clinics throughout western Pennsylvania. The Department’s mission is to maximize the health, function, and well-being of the people they serve by providing the highest quality rehabilitative medical care, conducting highly relevant, cutting-edge research, and training the next generation of clinicians and researchers. Read More