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In this episode of the Sarasota Neurology Podcast, Dr. Kassicieh discusses Platelet Rich Plasma  and Regenerative Medicine.

Regenerative medicine is a new, exciting branch of medicine which deals with healing injured or damaged tissue with the body’s own natural healing mechanism. To do this, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is extracted from the patient’s own blood. Using blood from the patient eliminates the risk of transmission of blood born disease, viruses and other infectious agents. PRP is then injected into the area of the body that needs intensive healing and tissue regeneration.

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PRP therapy works especially well for injured tendons and ligaments, and is uniquely suited for those difficult knee and shoulder injuries. Even patients who have had knee or shoulder surgery but still have pain can have dramatic benefit and pain relief from PRP therapy.

PRP is revolutionary therapy in that it avoids surgery. It is done as an outpatient procedure, so there is no recovery time or rehabilitation to deal with. If you have joint pain, you may be an excellent candidate for PRP therapy. Call now to schedule an evaluation to see if you would benefit from PRP therapy.

To schedule an appointment, please call (941) 955-5858 or you may request an appointment here.


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How I Avoided Knee SurgeryI remember it like it was yesterday. While playing racquetball in December 2011, I felt a sudden click in my right knee. I just knew that I had torn my right knee medial meniscus. The knee MRI  proved it. The pain was excruciating, and it was compounded by the thought that this happened 9 weeks before my annual Rocky Mountain ski trip.

The misery did not last long though. I’ve been through this scenario before. I did the exact same thing to my left knee in 2010. (I have the MRI for that one, too!) So, I turned to the revolutionary treatment that got me back up on my feet and on the slopes last time this happened.

If I had gone the surgery route, my trip would have been cancelled, as surgery and rehab can take 3-6 months – with no guarantee of outcome. But I was on the slopes as planned! — Not just any slopes, but the “Expert” slopes! I skied for three gorgeous days in a row without pain or problems! No surgery. No downtime. No rehabilitation. Just a simple injection and then my body did the rest.  I was completely healed, completely pain free by the time I left for my trip. All this only eight weeks after treating my right knee.

Sound too good to be true? Well it’s not…it’s PRP – platelet rich plasma. PRP is the cutting-edge therapy that even professional athletes have turned to when faced with career-limiting injuries.

PRP is short for platelet rich plasma. With PRP, a patient’s own blood is drawn and the platelets are extracted into a small amount of your own blood plasma. Platelets contain numerous beneficial, natural growth factors and chemical messengers that initiate and aid in healing and tissue regeneration. As the PRP is derived from the patient’s own blood, there is no risk for rejection or disease transmission. The PRP is then injected into the injury site. In my case, my knee. It’s that simple. Still not convinced? Let’s compare PRP therapy versus traditional arthroscopic knee surgery, which would be the usual prescribed course of treatment for an MRI proven torn meniscus.

Risks associated with Surgery may include:

  • Possible complications due to anesthesia
  • The surgical procedure itself – with no guarantee of pain relief
  • Increased knee pain during recovery process
  • 3-6 months rehabilitation after surgery
  • 3 hours or more of lost work per week due to therapy plus drive time to appointment
  • Use of narcotics to manage pain
  • Possible risk of addiction to pain killers

Risks associated with PRP:

  • Essentially zero

Pretty startling contrast between the two, don’t you think? Oftentimes, patients may complain PRP is not covered by traditional insurance and therefore too expensive to pay out-of-pocket.  If you look at it a different way: Add up the co-payments associated with both the surgery and 3-6 months of rehabilitative therapy plus the missed time at work, you could have easily covered the cost of PRP therapy. That does not even include the downtime that you will have before and following surgery.

Remember, with PRP therapy there is no recovery time, no anesthesia, no narcotics, no downtime. You have one shot on Friday and are back to work on Monday.

PRP may not be right for every situation, but if you have an injury or condition that you’ve been told requires surgery, it’s definitely worth checking out! This is true not only for knee problems (not limited to a torn meniscus) but also for shoulder pain, rotator cuff injuries, hip pains, ankle injuries and plantar fasciitis (foot pain.) Remember: surgery is irreversible and narcotics are addictive. Surgery never comes with a guarantee and frequently patients have more pain after the surgical procedure. Avoid them if at all possible! For more information on the non-surgical treatment of joint pains and learn more about Sarasota PRP here.

I remember discussing my knee with my physical therapist friend who marveled at my rapid, complete recovery. He looked at me and said, “Why isn’t there a line out your door right now of patients waiting to get PRP instead of surgery?”  I thought to myself, “He’s right. Too many patients are getting knee, shoulder and foot surgery who could do extremely well with PRP therapy.”

Ready to make your appointment today and start living pain free?


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A recent report in the Journal of the AMA (De Vos, et al JAMA 2009) reported that platelet rich plasma therapy was no more effective for chronic Achilles tendinopathy than standard, conservative therapy. This study was inherently flawed in its design resulting in incorrect conclusions. Platelet rich plasma is the healing component of blood. It is derived and concentrated from a patient’s own blood and then injected into the affected area. Not all PRP is the same. Blood processing is the key, levels of growth factors are of utmost importance and successful outcomes will vary with the technique, protocol and level of expertise the clinician possesses. Different PRP extraction equipment and how the blood product is handled during this process is also critical.

De Vos et al commented “A limitation of the study was that the amount of platelets and quantity of activated growth factors that were present in the PRP injections were unknown.” This introduces several variables that would invalidate the data and the study’s conclusion:

1. What PRP processing system was used?

2. Were the levels of Growth Factors therapeutic? Therapeutic level ranges  are usually 4-5  times the baseline.

3. No levels or PRP concentrations were taken or reported.

All of these are significant study design flaws that will result in invalid study conclusions. Additionally the study stated “Platelets are slow to activate by exposure to tendon collagen, but it might be that therapeutic pressure within the tendon, a large amount of PRP diffused rapidly out of the tendon thereby reducing its effect.” Additionally thrombin – a critical component in PRP therapy – was not used to activate the platelets. PRP and growth factors will not activate or be as effective if thrombin is not used in this procedure.

Perhaps most significant study design error was that only one PRP injection was given. The study patients, by design criteria, were required to have chronic Achilles tendinopathy that had responded poorly to prior therapies. Chronic tendon injuries, particularly those in the Achilles tendon, heal poorly due to inherently poor blood circulation. The standard PRP technique in this type of injury would be a series of three injections over a period of 3-4 months. A study that specifies treating a patient with a chronic tendinopathy with a single PRP injection is setting up the patient unnecessarily for failure. Lastly, the study had a low number of subjects in it to make any clinically significant conclusions. Only 27 subjects were treated, each with a single PRP injection and there were 27 control subjects.

Regenerative medicine – Platelet rich plasma – has been FDA approved for medical use for 20 years. It has been used widely in dental, cardiac, orthopedic medicine to assist in and improve medical outcomes. The professional horse racing associations widely use PRP therapy to heal leg injuries in their million dollar race horses. Major league sports such as the NFL and MLB consider platelet rich plasma therapy an important treatment option to get their elite athletes “back into the game” in as short of time as possible. PRP healing typically takes six weeks, particularly when combined with rehabilitation. In conclusion, PRP is a highly effective medical treatment for ligament, tendon, muscle and other knee/shoulder injuries as well as lower back pain. Even patients with post-operative knee pain or shoulder pain can benefit from PRP therapy.  Outcomes are entirely dependent on the preparation and handling of the blood, equipment used and experience as well as skill of the treating physician. Additional information on PRP can be found at PRP Stops Pain. Excellent clinical study references can be found by clicking here.


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As a neurologist who sees many patients with neck, back and various joint pains, I practice an area of medicine known as neuro-orthopedics. As such, I treat patients for their pain without surgical intervention. Many patients with neck, back and joint pain (knee pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain, etc.) can be successfully treated without invasive surgery and the many risk that go along with this. With surgery there is also a prolonged recovery time and need for extensive rehabilitation. The area of medicine that applies to successfully treating patients without surgery or use of narcotic medications is known as regenerative medicine. In this field, platelet rich plasma is injected into the affected joint, tendon, ligament or soft tissue area that has pain and is failing to heal completely. Tendons attach muscle to bone and ligaments attach bones to bones. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is the concentrated healing components of the blood. Only one percent of the blood contains the bioactive proteins and platelets that are involved in healing. Through a specialized process, we can take the patient’s own blood and concentrate the platelets and bioactive proteins up to 500%. This small amount of concentrated PRP is then injected into the joint or other body area, that needs regeneration, after local anesthetic is administered. The PRP graft is then activated with thrombin and the healing process begins. Using the patient’s own blood eliminates the risk of transmitting disease and prevents graft rejection. PRP also has the benefit of being antimicrobial, killing off bacteria thereby limiting the risk of infection. David Crane, MD published an excellent overview of platelet rich plasma.

Platelet rich plasma works by first being injected into the affected area and activated. The activated platelets attach themselves to the damaged tissue, whether that be tendons, ligaments, muscle or bone. The platelets release alpha granules and dense particles. The small packets contain powerful bioactive proteins that begin the healing process. The alpha granules contain clotting factors, growth factors, cytokines and adhesion molecules. These substances allow the PRP graft to attach to the damaged tissue and start recruiting other healing cells to migrate into the area. The dense particles contain proteins that allow the platelets to clump together, forming the structural matrix of the PRP graft.

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