Platelet rich plasma (PRP)
What is PRP?
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is an advanced regenerative therapy that uses the patient’s own blood components to help rebuild damaged tissue. Upon blood drawing into a sterile tube (in the same manner as a standard blood test) and derived separation, a concentration of platelets is formed in the plasma. The platelet concentrate is a source for growth factors that are vital to initiate and accelerate tissue repair and regeneration. These bioactive proteins initiate connective tissue healing, promote development of new blood vessels, and stimulate the healing process.
How does PRP therapy work?
Blood will be taken from you and then placed in a machine that spins at high speed to separate the different types of blood cells. The doctor will extract the platelet rich part of the blood, mix it with local anaesthetic and inject this into the area of your injury under ultrasound guidance to ensure the therapy hits the right target. The entire process to prepare your blood takes about 15 minutes and increases the concentration of platelets and growth factors at the site of injury by up to 500% (you will have five times the normal number of platelets/growth factors). By having a PRP injection, we aim to stimulate your body’s ability to heal chronic conditions like tendon problems and joint wear and tear.
What are the potential benefits of treatment?
The main benefit is that patients can see a significant improvement in symptoms. This treatment may eliminate the need for more aggressive treatments such as long term medication or surgery, as well as a remarkable return of function and a much shorter recovery time.
A major advantage of this treatment is that no foreign substance is used – we use the patient’s own growth factors from his or her own blood - so there is no risk of any disease transmission.
Main PRP applications in Sport and orthopaedic medicine
- Elbow: Tennis and Golfer’s elbow
- Knee: Osteoarthritis, meniscus injuries, cartilage defects, patellar and quadriceps tendinopathies
- Foot and Ankle: Achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis
- Shoulder: Rotator cuff tendinopathies and partial tears, cartilage defects and early arthritis, SLAP lesions
How many treatments will I need?
Your doctor will examine you and guide a personalised treatment regime. Typically, individuals undergo 1-3 injections within a 6 month window.
What are the possible risks or complications of this procedure?
Thankfully, these are rare. The doctor will discuss all benefits and complications with you before the procedure. The complications include:
• Irritation or infection at the site of the injection.
• An increase in inflammation and pain at the site of the injection – this is often a promising predictor of benefit.
• Bleeding and/or bruising.
• No relief in symptoms – the treatment is not 100 % guaranteed.
• Prolonged stiffness and/or pain.
How long will the procedure take?
The procedure usually takes around 30-40 minutes. Most of this time is spent separating the PRP from your blood sample, discussing the procedure and ultrasound scanning the affected area. The PRP will be injected into the joint by ultrasound guided injection.
After the procedure?
We encourage relative rest of the affected area for 48 hours after the procedure.
Pain killers like paracetamol can be used but medicines like ibuprofen and aspirin should not be used for a week prior or 2 weeks after the procedure. They can affect the healing and regeneration process.
You can drive when you feel comfortable to do so.
We anticipate an improvement in symptoms from week 3 onwards after the injection and encourage a physiotherapy rehabilitation program to supplement the treatment process.