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Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or Autologous Conditioned Plasma (ACP) is plasma with a high concentration of platelets, which contains a large number of proteins which enhance the body’s natural healing response. These concentrated proteins or growth factors can initiate and accelerate new tissue growth within the tendons and ligaments to repair damage and relieve symptoms for patients with tendinosis, muscle injury, arthritis or other causes of chronic pain.
Injecting platelet-rich plasma into damaged tissue is an effective yet minimally invasive treatment option used to relieve pain and other symptoms caused by this damage. By enhancing the body's natural healing abilities, patients are able to enjoy a faster and more thorough healing process that relieves symptoms and allows them to return to their regular activities.
The plasma is prepared from the patient’s own blood, hence the term autologous conditioned plasma. The blood is taken during the treatment session, and centrifuged there and then. The particular centrifugation method used in this process separates the blood into three layers:
Red blood cells
White blood cells
It is the latter, the platelet-rich plasma, which contains the all-important regenerative components, and which is then extracted under sterile conditions and used in the treatment.
The procedure from this point on is not too different from the commonly used steroid infiltration but without the potential harmful effects that can come with them. The platelet rich plasma is injected at or around the site of injury, targeting them and their growth factors where they are needed most.
COMMON INDICATIONS INCLUDE:
Osteoarthritis – for inflammatory relief and probably promoting cartilage repair.
Soft tissue injuries including ligament, tendon or muscle injuries. Examples include Achilles tendinitis, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, plantar fasciitis, Patellar tendinitis, other tendinopathies, Trochanteric bursitis, rotator cuff or impingement syndrome.
Cosmetic treatments, mainly facial rejuvenation
Currently it is only the first two indications, those in bold, that are being treated at St. Andrews. And all treatments must follow a consultation with the specialist doctor.
WHAT CAN PATIENTS EXPECT AFTER THE PRP PROCEDURE?
After platelet-rich plasma injections, patients may experience soreness and aching for several days, which is a sign that the healing process has begun. Paracetamol and ice may be utilised if needed to help alleviate these symptoms. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications (Ibuprofen, Diclofenac and other NSAIDs) should be avoided for the first 3 weeks after the injection so as not to inhibit the healing cascade put into effect by the PRP. Patients can return to work and other normal activities immediately after treatment (depending on the area being treated) but should refrain from heavy lifting and strenuous activity for a few days. After a few weeks, the patient can expect a reduction in pain. The procedure might need to be repeated for total pain relief to be achieved.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS PROCEDURE?
For many patients, platelet-rich plasma injections offer significant relief from pain and other symptoms, and may eliminate the need for surgery or long-term medications. This treatment also promotes the healing process and allows patients to return to their normal activities faster than with other nonsurgical treatments.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES FOR THE PATIENT?
It is an outpatient procedure
It is a quick process (less than 30 min)
The active substance is derived from the patient’s own body (autologous) and is therefore well tolerated.
ARE PLATELET-RICH INJECTIONS SAFE?
Since the PRP is produced from the patient's own blood, there is very little risk for complications with this procedure. There is always a risk of infection with any type of injection, but most patients undergo this procedure with no problems.
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