Ben Yates Consultant Podiatric Surgeon
Wiltshire
Foot Surgery Services
Mr Ben Yates
Consultant Podiatric Surgeon
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Platelet Rich Plasma Injections
Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) injections are a ‘cutting edge’ treatment that involves taking a patient’s own blood and concentrating the levels of platelets and growth factors and then injecting this into the damaged tissue to promote healing.
This treatment has been in use for more than a decade, but more recently, has gained popularity worldwide due to media coverage of its use in high profile athletes with injuries. These athletes are reported to include: Tiger Woods, Rafael Nadal, Kobe Bryant, and Jermaine Defoe.
PRP Injections were once considered controversial, but have since gained acceptance within the medical and sporting community, particularly for longstanding problems involving soft tissues which have poor healing properties, such as tendon and ligament injuries.
It is now also acceptable within elite sport, with the World Anti-doping Association (WADA) and the UK Anti-doping Association (UKAD) removing it from their list of prohibited substances from 2011 onwards.
 
How does PRP work?
Regarding the way in which PRP works, some laboratory studies have demonstrated that the increased concentration of growth factors in PRP are able to help the body’s natural healing process. Other studies have not shown this beneficial effect. The evidence base on this treatment is growing all the time and PRP appears to be more helpful in some conditions compared to others. A recent study on PRP injections for Achilles tendonopathy demonstrated a reduction in symptoms in 80% of patients.
Can it be harmful?
It is not generally considered to have any major harmful effects, because apart from a patient’s own (autologous) blood, no other constituents are added to the injection. For that reason, it is popular with patients who want more of a ‘natural approach’ to dealing with their injuries.
 
Foot and ankle conditions that can be treated with PRP:
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles tendon injuries
 
Is PRP injection treatment covered by private medical insurance?
Yes but currently not all insurance companies cover this injection treatment. You should check with your insurance company prior to starting this treatment. Self-funding packages are also available.
 
What happens prior to PRP injections?
An initial consultation is required to assess your problem. Diagnostic imaging such as an ultrasound scan or MRI are often needed before deciding on treatment to ensure the diagnosis is correct and other similar conditions have been ruled out.
 
If a condition is deemed to be suitable for PRP treatment, Mr Yates will explain the procedure, risks and aftercare involved to ensure you are fully aware of the treatment process. You should use this opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the treatment.
Blood is obtained by the process of venesection, similar to a routine blood test. This is stored in a sterile syringe to prevent infection and contamination and the blood is then centrifuged. The plasma-rich layer is then extracted and injected back into the same patient under sterile conditions. The injection is performed under a local anaesthetic block using ultrasound to guide the injection.
 
What can I expect after my PRP injection?
You will be instructed to rest the area after the injection usually partially weight bearing in a cam walker (ski boot) for 1-2 weeks.
Physiotherpay maybe used in conjunction with your injection. Improvements in pain are usually seen within 6 weeks.
    
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