As a fellowship trained, board certified orthopedic sports medicine physician who speaks nationally and internationally, I keep myself up to date on what is the newest and greatest treatments available for my patients. I am always reading journals and on-line publications as well as speaking to my colleagues on what is new and innovative. I am a board examiner who certifies other orthopedic surgeons to see if they qualify to be board certified. Part of being a good doctor is not just offering my patients what is available to make them better, but also protecting them from what is a waste of time and money or treatments that may even cause them harm.
In the 1800s before we had many real medicines, people would buy snake oil that they were told would cure everything from arthritis to constipation. Caveat Emptor (buyer beware in Latin) means that patients should know what they are getting before they agree to a surgery or medical treatment. However, it is also the responsibility of the doctor who recommends the treatment as a licensed professional to protect his/her patients from the wrong treatments.
For the past 10 years, many people have received treatment using PRP. This is Platelet Rich Plasma which is obtained from the patient’s blood, spun down in a centrifuge to separate the blood with part of the PRP being injected into damaged tendons or even joints to assist in healing. Many studies have shown success with this treatment, but many have also shown failures. In my practice, I use PRP sparingly and charge very little for this treatment as insurance does not cover it. I feel bad for patients having to pay out of pocket when I know how much we all have to pay for health insurance. However, I am truly disappointed by so many doctors in the city and even some in Westchester who charge up to 5x what I charge and consider that to be a reasonable price. Some of these doctors don’t even try proven treatments first such as physical therapy for tennis elbow before selling their patients on the idea of PRP injections. I am truly disappointed in these few but truly unethical doctors.
If you are considering treatment that is not covered by insurance such as PRP, stem cells or other treatments that have been suggested, do your own research first. If you have arthritis, have you tried weight loss, muscle strengthening and stretching? Have you tried cortisone and Hyaluronic Acid injections that have been show to work and are covered by insurance? Be smart with what treatments you are receiving. Protect your health and your money from useless or harmful treatments.
It is critical to have a doctor you trust. Some surgeons are too eager to cut and some too eager to suggest the most profitable treatment. Talk to friends and colleagues about the doctors they trust. Don’t go blindly into any treatment (ophthalmology treatments excluded!) and have a real conversation with your doctor about all the options first. Be the smart patient and have a smart doctor who puts your interest first.
By: Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA