Are you suffering from a sports injury that’s resistant to conservative pain treatment? PRP injections might be an option worth considering to accelerate your recovery.
The injection of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) uses the healing properties found in blood to treat pain in joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments. Queensland Diagnostic Imaging offers this pain management/Sports imaging procedure in a range of locations across Queensland, including our new Varsity Lakes facility.
In this article, we’ll cover what you need to know about PRP injections; including what they are, how they work, and where to get further information.
What is Platelet Rich Plasma?
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is an isolate of whole blood that has been enriched with a high concentrate of platelets. Platelets are small cell fragments found in blood that play an important role in key biologic processes including tissue regeneration, angiogenesis, and inflammation resolution. They have properties that support infection control and promote the release of growth factors that stimulate healing.
PRP can also sometimes include the patient’s own stem cells at concentrated levels, which further helps optimise the conditions for healing of bone and soft tissue.
How can PRP help?
The growth factors derived from platelets in PRP can help repair soft tissue, regenerate bones, develop new blood vessels, and stimulate the wound healing process. This makes PRP orthopaedic injections an effective alternative to treatments, such as steroid injections, that mask symptoms such as pain and inflammation instead of addressing the cause of the injury. PRP has also been proven more effective than laser therapy, and can also be a beneficial alternative to ultrasound therapy.
Platelet Rich Plasma injections can help regenerate joints, muscles and tendons in common injury sites such as wrists, shoulders, knees, hips and ankles. Common problems that can benefit from this pain therapy include:
- Tennis elbow
- Carpel tunnel syndrome
- ACL tears
- Shin splints
- Lumbar spine disc pain
- Rotator cuff tears
- Joint osteoarthritis
- Plantar fasciitis
- Hamstring tears
- Torn muscle in calf
- Achilles tendinopathy
What does the procedure involve?
Prior to PRP therapy, a test is done using an MRI, CT or ultrasound to ensure an accurate diagnosis of the specific source of your pain. Your radiologist will then review the imaging to decide on appropriate treatment.
The injection process itself begins with a small blood sample being taken. The blood is then spun in a centrifuge for 5 minutes to separate red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The platelets are then withdrawn and injected directly into the injury site under local anaesthetic.
As PRP uses the body’s own cells, this pain therapy is considered a relatively simple and safe treatment. However, as there is a risk of infection with any injection, the treatment is performed under sterile conditions. Here at our sports imaging facility in Varsity Lakes, we also incorporate ultrasound guidance to precisely inject PRP into the affected area.
The procedure takes approximately 20 minutes.
PRP rehab protocol
After your PRP injection, the affected area may throb and ache. This is because the PRP triggers a regenerative response in your body by tricking it into thinking it’s just been injured. This throbbing and aching can last for several days as the body kicks into healing overdrive. Painkillers such as Paracetamol may help reduce any discomfort.
We recommend the following rehabilitation protocol as you recover:
Week 1: Engage in light day to day tasks, but no weight bearing exercises or activities that put strain on the treated area.
Week 2-4: Light exercises that involve controlled movement are encouraged under the guidance of a physiotherapist. It’s important to progressively build up to normal exercise while not overly stressing the treated area.
Week 4: Book an appointment with your referring health care provider to follow up on your pain levels and discuss your future course of action. Depending on how your tissue reacts, you may be advised to have an additional injection.
It’s important to remember that PRP is an effective pain treatment for many; however it is not a miracle cure. If you have had no benefit after two injections, unfortunately it’s unlikely that your body will respond to more injections and an alternative procedure may be required.
What to do next
Queensland Diagnostic Imaging offer PRP at a variety of convenient locations across the Gold Coast including Varsity Lakes. Call our friendly team on 07 5585 3700 to find out how our Pain Management Centre can help you, or visit us at https://www.qdi.com.au/imaging-services/interventional-pain-services/.
Watch our video to find out more: https://youtu.be/yOTvVHVkwpc