Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections

PRP Therapy is performed at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital by Professor Cathy Speed  and Mr Niel Kang, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon 

Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital offers comprehensive private hospital services in a comfortable and relaxed environment to patients from Cambridgeshire and East Anglia.

The treatment described here may be adapted to meet your individual medical needs, so it’s important to follow your surgeon’s advice.

About PRP

PRP is a relatively new treatment used for some orthopaedic conditions like: lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) or medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) in your elbow, impingement syndrome in your shoulder and other conditions:

• Tennis elbow (or lateral epicondylitis) is a pain on the outer side of the elbow caused by wear and tear in forearm muscle tendons. Tennis elbow is the result of repeated bending and twisting movements of the forearm, such as when playing tennis, using a screwdriver, or carrying heavy objects. The activity, initially painless, cause small tears in the tendon. Over time more tears occur and painful scar tissue forms.

• Golfer’s elbow (or medial epicondylitis) is pain on the inside of the elbow caused by wear and tear in forearm muscle tendons.

What is PRP?
PRP treatment involves a small amount of blood being taken from you. The blood is then placed in a centrifuge which spins and separates the platelets from the rest of the blood. Your own platelets are then collected into a highly concentrated formula which is injected directly into the injured area. When platelets become activated, growth factors are released and initiate the body’s natural healing response; tendon regeneration can be achieved by injecting platelet-rich plasma into the worn tendon.

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 surgeon will extract the platelet rich part of the blood, mix it with local anaesthetic and inject this into the area of your pain. 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, the aim is to stimulate your body’s ability to heal chronic problems like tennis elbow.

What are the potential benefits of treatment?
Patients see a significant improvement in symptoms. This treatment may eliminate the need for other treatments such as long term medication or surgery. A major advantage of this treatment is that no foreign substance is used – your own growth factors from your own blood are used - so there is minimal risk of disease transmission.

What are the alternatives?

• Surgery
• Anti-inflammatory drug therapy
• Steroid injections
• Physiotherapy

What are the possible risks or complications of this procedure?
As with all treatments there is a risk of some complications. These are rare, but you should be aware of them before your operation.

They include:

• Infection at the site of the injection.
• An increase in inflammation and pain at the site of the injection.
• Bleeding and/or bruising.
• No relief or worsening of symptoms.
• Skin discolouration.
• Allergic reaction to the local anaesthetic drug.
• Failure to achieve successful result.
• Injury to the nerves or blood vessels.
• Prolonged stiffness and/or pain.

If you require further information about risks or side effects, please ask the doctors in clinic or on admission.

How long will the procedure take?
The procedure usually takes around 30 minutes. Most of this time is preparing the platelet-rich  plasma from your blood sample.

What will happen after I am discharged?

• Pain - A local anaesthetic is used during the procedure which means that immediately after the procedure the elbow may feel numb. This may last a few hours. After this the area may well be sore for a period of a few weeks. You can take simple painkillers such as paracetamol, following the dosage instructions on the packaging. It is recommended that you do not take anti-inflammatory medications (such as aspirin or ibuprofen) for up to a week before and for up to 4 weeks after the procedure. If you are unsure whether any regular medication you are on is anti-inflammatory, show it to your doctor or nurse so that they can advise you whether it is safe to take.

• Activity and exercise - Only do minimal activity for the first three days after the procedure and resume light activity after a week.

• Work - You may return as soon as you feel able - usually within a few days after the procedure. If your job involves manual work, stay off work for about a week.

• Driving - You may resume driving when you feel comfortable, and only if you can perform an emergency stop safely.

For further details please enquire with your automobile insurers.

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About Professor Cathy Speed
Professor Cathy Speed
Professor Speed is a Consultant in Rheumatology, Sport and Exercise Medicine. She is also a Senior Physician for the English Institute of Sport, the main provider of medical and scientific support for British Olympic Sports. She is a Member of the British Olympic Medical Committee, is Chief Medical Officer of Team GB Badminton and Team GB Shooting and is Physician to Middlesex County Cricket Club and the academy at the Lords Cricket Ground.

Professor Speed has a particular expertise in musculoskeletal injuries and arthritis, in rehabilitation and in exercise medicine in health and chronic disease. She also has a specific interest in the diagnosis and management of complex musculoskeletal pain. Hence, many of her patients are not sports people but are those with significant medical issues that affect their daily function and quality of life.

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About Mr Niel Kang

Mr Niel Kang is a specialist upper limb surgeon with expertise in shoulder, elbow, and complex upper limb trauma surgery, and non-surgical treatments for upper limb soft tissue conditions (tendinopathies). Keyhole (arthroscopic) surgery and joint replacement form a core component of his service.

Niel Kang has numerous peer reviewed publications and national presentations. His current research focuses on the non-surgical treatment of shoulder and elbow soft tissue degenerative diseases. This includes implementing and collaborating in trials on using patient’s own blood products (Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)) to treat tendinopathies of the upper limb.

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© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)