Platelet rich plasma (PRP) uses the growth factors and natural healing cells in your own blood to help repair tendon damage and treat the pain caused by injuries and chronic wear.

PRP is most commonly used for tendon attachments at the elbow (tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow), hamstring origin, patella (jumper’s knee), Achilles tendon or the plantar fascia (heel spur). To be successful it is essential that any image-guided injection forms part of a complete rehabilitation program guided by your surgeon, sports doctor, GP or physiotherapist.

Procedure

Prior to treatment, an accurate diagnosis is essential which will usually require a diagnostic ultrasound or MRI scan. PRP is currently available at St Andrew’s and Calvary Wakefield Hospitals. About 30mL of blood is taken from a vein just like any blood test. A centrifuge is then used to remove the red blood cells and obtain plasma with 10 times the concentration of platelets and growth factors.

The skin is then cleaned with antiseptic and a fine needle is positioned into the abnormal area using ultrasound guidance to ensure precise placement. Local anaesthetic may also be used.

Post Procedure Care

Some swelling or discomfort is common in the first few days because this injection works by activating “good” inflammation to promote the healing process. You may benefit from an icepack or paracetamol but avoid anti-inflammatory medication, such as Nurofen, Voltaren, Mobic and Celebrex as it may reduce the effectiveness.

A rehabilitation programme will need to be guided by your referring clinician but would typically involve:

  • Week 1: No deliberate exercise.
  • Weeks 2-4: A 3 week graduated program of stretching and eccentric exercises.
  • End of week 4: Reassess.

Risks / Side Effects

Because we are re-injecting your own blood there is no risk of allergic reaction and no adverse effect on the tendon structure. Any injection carries a small risk of introducing infection, about 1 in 30,000, and we take precautions to minimise this. If you experience increasing swelling or redness, please call your doctor.

Before your Scan

Anti-inflammatory medication such as Nurofen, Voltaren, Mobic and Celebrex  should be stopped 10 days before and 10 days after as it may reduce the effectiveness of the procedure.

Pre exam (at booking) please let us know if you are taking blood thinners. Ideally these should also be stopped, however  you must check with your doctor first.

It is a good idea to wear clothing that allows easy access to the area that is being imaged.

Duration

40 – 60 minutes