PRP Therapy

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Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a procedure that is increasingly being used in the treatment of injuries to tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints, such as chronic tendon problems and sprains. In the past, such injuries tended to be treated with medication, physiotherapy or sometimes surgery. PRP injections can also be used to treat osteoarthritis in certain circumstances.

Platelet-rich plasma offers an effective and minimally invasive alternative, using your own blood to promote healing. It is a form of regenerative medicine, which focuses on harnessing and amplifying the body’s own natural healing abilities.

What is PRP?

Plasma is the liquid component of blood, which also contains platelets and red and white blood cells.  Platelets are vital for clotting and healing injuries. They contain proteins called growth factors. PRP uses a high concentration of platelets – between five and 10 times the number occurring naturally in blood – which means the number of growth factor proteins is also higher and this is the key to the treatment’s effectiveness. It is believed that the increased concentration of growth factors may help to speed up the healing process.

These activated platelets are injected directly into the injured part of your body. This releases growth factors which help to stimulate and increase the number of reparative cells produced by your body. The fact that the patient’s own blood is used means that risk factors are relatively small.

PRP is a relatively new therapy so detailed studies into its effectiveness are not yet available. However, the treatment has been used by a number of high-profile athletes, including Rafael Nadal and Tiger Woods, many of whom have praised its effectiveness. Early studies suggest it is effective in the treatment of chronic tendon injuries affecting the elbow.

Who may benefit

PRP may be particularly helpful for sports people who sustain tendon and ligament injuries or muscle sprains. For example, it is used in the treatment of Achilles tendonitis, which can occur in runners and tennis players, causing the tendon in the heel to become inflamed and painful. Both acute (sudden and severe) injuries and chronic (ongoing, long-term) injuries may benefit from the procedure.

PRP is starting to be used alongside surgical procedures to help with the healing process post-surgery. In this instance, PRP is stitched into the torn tissues rather than being administered as an injection.

PRP injections may be of benefit in knee osteoarthritis where they may help with cartilage healing and regeneration. They may also help with pain relief by having an anti-inflammatory effect.

Contact us

For evidence-based orthopaedic care you can trust, make contact for an initial consultation.

What to expect from PRP injections

Blood will be taken from your arm in the same way that it would be during a normal blood test. It is then placed inside a centrifuge which spins the blood sample very fast to separate the platelets from the other components and create a concentration of platelets. These are then combined with the remainder of the blood sample and anaesthetic. This is injected into the injured area. Ultrasound imaging may be used to guide the injection to ensure it targets precisely the right area. You will normally be able to go home immediately after treatment but you should avoid doing anything strenuous for 24 hours.

Alternatively, the PRP concentration may be stitched into torn tissues during surgery to promote faster post-surgical healing.

We offer the treatment for a range of conditions, including acute sports injuries, and have seen many patients benefit from reduction in pain and improved healing.

Patient Outcomes

The lack of definitive research studies into this relatively new treatment area can make it difficult to assess its effectiveness accurately. Factors such as the overall health of the patient and whether the injury is acute or chronic can also affect outcomes.

However, early indications suggest that PRP can significantly enhance the body’s own healing process. PRP injections for rotator cuff tears and Achilles tendon ruptures are increasingly common. It is also used to treat chronic tendon injuries such as tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow and Achilles tendonitis.

It may speed recovery from other sports injuries such as knee sprains and pulled hamstring muscles. The procedure is being trialled in surgical treatments like repairs to torn knee ligaments but, as yet, the results are inconclusive. In the future it may also be used to treat osteoarthritis of the knee or fractures.

One of the benefits of PRP is it reduces the need for strong painkillers such as opioids and anti-inflammatories.

Risks of PRP injections

PRP injections are created from your own blood so side-effects are rare. Any risks associated with PRP are relatively minor and similar to those associated with any kind of injection. There may be a risk of infection or tissue or nerve damage. Increased pain can sometimes occur at the injection site, although this is normally short-lived.

Initially, the affected area may show an increase in pain levels which can last up to two weeks. It can be several weeks before the benefits of PRP are experienced fully.

For evidence-based orthopaedic care you can trust, make contact for an initial consultation.