What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)?
Platelet rich plasma injection (more commonly known as PRP injection or PRP therapy) is a treatment that involves injecting a small amount of one’s own blood into slowly healing soft tissue injuries in order to speed up the body’s own healing process.
So, what are platelets? Platelets are a part of our blood which aid in clotting and tissue healing. They contain and can release a number of growth factors, special biologically active proteins that play an important role in tissue healing and regeneration.
Platelets rich plasma or PRP is designed to accelerate your body’s healing of musculoskeletal injuries naturally, without subjecting you to significant risk or adverse effects.
What is PRP injection used for?
- Chronic tendon pain occurs following some form of injury, usually minor or it can even occur without an injury or sometimes be caused by degeneration or for no explanation. It may be tender to touch or it may flare up when during certain movements or exercise.
- Some terminology explained for your benefit: a tendon is the fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bone. Tendonitis is when a tendon becomes inflamed, swollen and painful. Tendonosis is used to describe tendons that display non-inflammatory degeneration. Tendonopathy is a general term that means any problem or disorder of a tendon.
- PRP injections are good treatments for tendonopathy. PRP treatment is especially useful for chronic tendon injuries that result in hip pain, such as that of the gluteus medius tendon, knee pain, such as that of the patellar tendon, or elbow pain (tennis elbow).
- PRP injections can also provide relief for some forms of arthritis of the knee i.e. osteoarthritis of the knee, which is usually from degeneration and ‘wear and tear’.
- Other joints that can also be treated with PRP injections include the sacroiliac joint (SIJ), hip joint, ankle joint and shoulder joint.
- Interestingly certain types of wounds can also be treated with some forms of PRP preparation.
Before PRP Treatment
Following an initial consultation with a Pain Specialist, you may be required to do some further scans like an ultrasound or an MRI to help confirm your diagnosis and determine if PRP therapy is the most appropriate treatment for you.
Anti-inflammatory medications have an effect on platelet function, so should be stopped one week prior to your procedure and for 1 week following PRP treatment.
Please let us know if you:
- are taking any blood thinning medications, including aspirin.
- have a current infection
- have been told you have a low platelet count
- are pregnant or are breastfeeding
- have an allergy to local anaesthetic
- PRP treatment will take around 30 minutes and is completed in one of our procedure rooms
- As your own blood is used, the doctor or nurse will take approximately 10ml of blood from your arm in the same way that a blood test is taken. Your blood will then be prepared in a centrifuge machine in order to separate the platelet rich plasma (PRP) from the red cells and other blood components. With ultrasound guidance, the PRP will then be injected under sterile conditions into the appropriate location to best aid healing by your pain specialist.
- As PRP results vary, a series of one or more PRP injections may be required.
PRP Injections Recovery Time
- Gentle activity and rest is advised for the first 48 hours following your PRP injection
- Following this you can resume your normal activities and commence rehabilitation exercises – your Pain Specialist may recommend follow up with a physiotherapist to help guide your rehabilitation exercises.
- A moderate amount of discomfort is expected in the 2 – 5 days following the procedure. Simple pain relief medications such as paracetamol is recommended in this period.
- If you’re concerned about your pain in the post procedure period, please contact us.
- The effects of PRP injections do not usually occur quickly but you may find that over the course of a few months, you make slow and steady progress and improvements.