After failing several treatments, Brogan found Dr. Allan Mishra, who's using platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, to heal injuries. "The concept is actually ridiculously simple," Allan Mishra, M.D., a clinical assistant professor at Stanford University Medical Center/Menlo Medical Clinic in Menlo Park, Calif., told Ivanhoe. "The power to heal yourself comes from within."
With a simple blood draw, Dr. Mishra separates PRP from other blood components using a special machine. It's then re-injected into the injured area. PRP contains growth factors that trigger tissue regeneration. "Your own body has developed the ability to take care of itself, and we're just simply trying to concentrate or maximize that ability," Dr. Mishra explains.
Studies show PRP is 93 percent successful -- slightly better than surgery. Dr. Mishra will soon test PRP to heal damaged cartilage, and it could also help degenerative disc disease in the back. "If we could rehydrate the disc and have that last over time, that would be a dramatic improvement over what's available right now," Dr. Mishra says.
The one-time treatment cured Brogan's elbow pain. "Six weeks and I was fully back and never had another ounce of pain again in that location," Brogan says. She's now hoping PRP will do the same for her other elbow.
PRP helps stimulate healing, so results are not immediate. Dr. Mishra says patients often notice effects after four weeks and should be fully recovered within three months. The cost of PRP is about $2,500. Compare that to the average cost of surgery, which is up to $15,000. Right now, there are only a handful of doctors performing this procedure in the United States.