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Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections

Tendons are the fibrous connective tissue that connects your muscles to your bones.

specialist performing physical examination of patients elbow and shoulder joints
A platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection uses a person's own blood to encourage the healing of damaged tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints.

The term 'platelet-rich plasma' was used for the first time in 1954, so it is not a new therapy.

PRP is a natural therapy and has several applications in healthcare which we will look at in more detail on this page.

More studies are needed to show exactly how effective PRP injections can be, but many people have found them to be an important part of their treatment and recovery from injury.

If you would like to discuss PRP injections with a consultant, your local Circle Health Group hospital would be delighted to help you. With the largest network of private hospitals in the UK, we can book you a private consultation with a specialist of your choice at a convenient time in a location near you.

Private consultations can be booked online or by phoning our friendly bookings team on 0141 300 5009.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a substance that uses certain parts of your own blood to promote healing.

Plasma makes up around 55% of our total blood volume, making it the largest element of our blood. A clear, straw-coloured liquid, plasma helps carry red and white blood cells and platelets around our body. Containing more than 700 proteins and other components, it can be repurposed into medicines and is often used during transfusions.

Platelets are fragments of cells that help our blood to clot. They also contain proteins called growth factors which play an important role in the healing process. PRP involves separating blood cells from the plasma and then concentrating the platelets.

Because PRP has a higher concentration of platelets, growth hormones and anti-inflammatory properties than normal blood, it is believed to promote healing and stimulate the growth of healthy new cells when injected into the body at or near the site of an injury.

This can help reduce the time it takes to recover from an injury, although this will vary for each individual.

How is PRP prepared?

Platelet-rich plasma involves taking a sample of your blood and then using a centrifugal machine to separate it out into its different elements.

First, certain parts that are not needed are removed. Next, the elements that are necessary are reinjected in higher concentrations.

Normally, this will lead to a fourfold or greater increase in the concentration of 'growth factors'. These are the parts of the blood that help promote the healing and growth of new, healthy cells.

The machine that is used to prepare the PRP uses centrifugal force, spinning the blood so quickly that it separates it out into its different layers. The concentrated plasma layer can then be extracted.

Sometimes, ultrasound is used during the process to try to increase the platelet activity.

Although this may seem complex, the whole process can be done in a clinic, and usually takes about 30 minutes. When you visit your local Circle Health Group hospital, everything will be done during your appointment - you do not need to come in for any preparatory work or give a blood sample in advance.

The cost of PRP injections will depend on various factors including which hospital you choose and how many of the injections you need. If you would like a guide price, you can call and speak to one of our advisors.

When you self-pay with Circle Health Group, we offer fixed price packages with no hidden costs. This won't include the cost of your initial consultation or any tests you have during it, but it will include the cost of your injections and any follow-up appointments you need. We will always provide the final cost in writing before starting treatment.

If you pay for yourself, we offer flexible payment options so you can spread the cost of treatment over a time that suits you - from 10 months to five years.

PRP injections are not usually covered by private health insurance however if your policy covers this treatment, do get in touch. We work with all major providers.

Although many people find PRP injections helpful in their recovery, PRP should not be seen as suitable for all injuries and conditions.

Mr Ben Gooding, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at The Park Hospital, explains when PRP injections are used:

"PRP is based around the principle of using your body's own healing properties to support tendons that are struggling to heal through injury or long-term irritation or damage.

"PRP injections have been well established over a long period of time, so they should not be considered experimental. They are most used for tendon injuries, such as tendon inflammation or irritation, and have also been used to try to speed up healing after tendon surgery.

"They are also being used in the context of arthritis to try and reduce inflammation and pain. So people with tendonitis and people with arthritis can both potentially benefit from PRP injections".

As the UK's largest network of private hospitals, we can provide you with fast access to an experienced consultant wherever you live in the country.

When you meet with your Circle Health Group consultant, they will carry out a thorough assessment of your condition and talk through suitable treatment options. If a PRP injection may be an option, they will talk about this with you.

If another treatment - physiotherapy, steroid injection, surgery and so on - would be more appropriate, they will discuss this with you and arrange for treatment to begin as soon as possible.

You will always receive advice about treatment that is tailored to your condition and particular requirements.

Nearly every medicine involves possible side effects and contraindications, some common and others extremely rare. PRP is unusual in this respect as it is a natural treatment.

PRP is a very safe treatment because it uses your own blood. This means that there is no risk of an adverse reaction or allergy. The only side effects you might get from a PRP injection are discomfort during the injection and bruising afterwards (similar to any injection).

When your blood sample is taken, it is spun and prepared in a sealed environment. The prepared PRP is then removed with a sterile syringe and needle, and nothing else comes into contact with it, reducing the risk of any type of contamination.

The only thing that is added is something to help stop the blood from clotting, but this is a simple and sterile part of the process.

A PRP injection is normally a straightforward procedure. It is done either in an outpatient clinic or in an operating suite, although you will not be having an operation.

A sample of blood will be taken, normally by a Circle Health Group nurse or health assistant. This will then be processed in the centrifugal machine to prepare the platelet-rich plasma.

Once it has been suitably prepared, the PRP is drawn up into a needle and injected into the relevant area of your body along with a local anaesthetic.

Ultrasound or X-ray may sometimes be used for precise positioning of the needle, but usually PRP is used for tendons that are near the surface and easy to locate, like the Achilles tendon in the ankle, the tendons around the elbow, or the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder.

As the injection is given, you may feel a little bit of pain. You may also feel a little stiff afterwards, and you might bruise at the injection site. This is normal for any type of injection and will not normally be a cause for concern.

Many people find they get immediate relief from pain from the PRP injection, but this is from the local anaesthetic, not the PRP itself.

Due to the way it works, PRP does not give instant results. Instead, it promotes healing in the tendon over a period of weeks and months. In Mr Gooding's experience, most people will see a benefit somewhere between two and six weeks after their injection as their tendon starts to remodel and heal.

Following a PRP injection, you will usually be given an exercise programme to follow by your local Circle Health Group physiotherapy team. It is important you stick to this programme as it plays an important part in how well you will recover from your injury. A PRP injection can help with your recovery, but is not a standalone treatment.

As it is a natural therapy derived from your blood, PRP injections can be repeated safely without any significant side effects.

Whether you will benefit from repeat PRP injections will depend on you and your particular situation. For example, a sports player who injures and irritates a tendon might not need surgery. However, they could benefit from repeat PRP injections to help things settle down while they continue to experience minor trauma in their tendon as part of their sport.

Alternatively, somebody like a painter or decorator who damages a tendon from overuse may not need repeat injections if their symptoms subside enough after an initial PRP injection and other treatment like physiotherapy.

One of the benefits of seeing a consultant at a Circle Health Group hospital is that it is very easy to book another private consultation if you think a repeat PRP injection may be helpful. Fast, simple access to a consultant means you can get expert advice about the best way forward. If a repeat PRP injection is indicated, it can be arranged for you quickly.

Below are some frequently asked questions about PRP injections.

What is a PRP injection?

PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections involve separating out your blood into its different parts, concentrating the amount of protein in the plasma, then injecting it back into your body to encourage the healing of damaged tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints.

How much does a PRP injection cost in the UK?

Exact prices vary for each hospital. Your local Circle Health Group hospital will be able to let you know the price of a PRP injection.

Are PRP injections available near me?

While many Circle Health Group hospitals have consultants working in them who provide PRP injections, it is easiest to contact your local Circle Health Group hospital for specific advice. You can find your local hospital on this page or by phoning us on 0141 300 5009.

How long does a PRP injection take?

Normally the whole procedure, from taking the blood sample to having the injection, can be done within half an hour.

How quickly does a PRP injection work?

Because a local anaesthetic is given at the same time as the PRP injection, many people find they feel pain relief immediately. This will wear off over time. The PRP itself will take between two and six weeks to start having a noticeable effect on your symptoms.

Are PRP injections safe?

Yes, they are extremely safe as they use the body's own blood. This means that there is no risk of an allergic reaction or side effects. You may get a little bit of bruising after the injection, but this is the same for any type of injection.

Do PRP injections hurt?

Like any injection, you may feel a small amount of pain when the needle is put into your skin. This is normally short-lived.  A local anaesthetic is given at the same time, and this helps to reduce pain.

How often can I have a PRP injection?

Your consultant will discuss this with you, as it will depend on your personal situation. A PRP injection will continue working over several months, so this will play a factor in the timelines for repeat injections.

Here are just some of the benefits your local Circle Health Group hospital can provide you with.

Fast access

When you choose Circle Health Group for your private healthcare, you benefit from rapid access to a consultant. With demands on healthcare increasing and many people experiencing long waiting lists for help, we can help you get the treatment you need quickly.

Comprehensive assessment

Circle Health Group hospitals offer easy access to leading consultants, specialist diagnostic and therapeutic equipment and tailored treatment plans.

It all starts with an initial private consultation, where your consultant will carry out a detailed assessment to ensure an accurate diagnosis is reached. If further investigation is needed, like blood tests or imaging, this is easily arranged for you.

Flexible appointments

All Circle Health Group hospitals provide private consultations throughout the week. Many also offer evening and weekend clinics to help fit in with the demands on your diary.

Private consultations can be booked on a day that is convenient for you, and you can choose the consultant you see. This is helpful if you have been recommended a consultant by a friend or family member or have seen a particular consultant previously.

It is simple to book a private consultation at your local Circle Health Group hospital - you can do this online or by phoning our friendly team on 0808 3029058.

Consultant-led care

You will only ever see a consultant at a private consultation. Because you will never be seen by a junior doctor, your assessment, diagnosis and treatment are all much more streamlined.

This means you will be able to begin any treatment at a much earlier date, relieving your pain and getting you back to better shoulder health sooner.

If you are struggling with pain, stiffness or any other problem, it is sensible to see a specialist for assessment and treatment advice.

Whether you have been struggling with the problem for a while or it has only just begun, your local Circle Health Group hospital can help you get the support you need.

Whether you need physiotherapy or surgery, advice on pain relief or a PRP injection, we are here to help you. We look forward to welcoming you to your local Circle Health Group hospital and helping get you out of pain and back to better movement and function as soon as possible.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in August 2022. Next review due August 2025.

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