Traditionally, patients suffering for osteoarthritis in their knees use physical therapy and anti-inflammatories to aid their recovery. While these methods can be helpful, they are no longer the only treatment options. Platelet rich plasma (prp) injections in the knee are an effective treatment option to combat osteoarthritis.
What is PRP Therapy?
Before we can talk about the benefits of treating osteoarthritis with PRP therapy, we have to define platelets and plasma. Platelets are small blood cells that are responsible for forming blood clots. They also contain growth factors that aid in the body’s healing process. Plasma, which is a clear liquid substance, constitutes the majority of human blood.
PRP Therapy helps to accelerate the healing process for a variety of injuries, mostly among soft tissue injuries. By injecting plasma that contains a high concentration of platelets, medical professionals can speed up the healing from an injury.
Medical professionals have experimented with PRP and use it treat a variety of injuries such as:
- Sports injuries
In addition to injuries, practitioners have found other ways to utilize the therapy. Here are a few alternative uses:
- Hair growth
- Plastic surgery
- Other surgeries
How Does It Work?
The process of PRP Therapy is quite simple. First, a medical professional draws blood from the patient. Next, in a process called centrifugation, they separate the blood into its different components:
- Red blood cells
- White blood cells
After separating the parts, a medical professional will combine the plasma with the extra platelets, bringing the concentration up as much as 10 times more than what is typically found in plasma.
At this point, there are two different ways that a medical professional can administer the platelet rich plasma.
1. Injection into the injured area: At Arizona Pain and Spine Institute, we use imaging technology to ensure that the PRP is injected into the precise location of the damaged area. For patients with osteoarthritis, we will inject the PRP into your knee.
2. Surgery: A more recent development in PRP therapy is its use during surgery, particularly to repair soft tissue injuries. Two common operations that medical practitioners have used PRP for are surgeries to repair the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), as well as plastic surgeries.
How Do PRP Injections in the Knee Help Osteoarthritis?
The recovery process for injections is relatively quick. We perform injections as an outpatient procedure, so you will be in and out on the same day. You will need to place ice on your knee consistently for several days after the treatment. You will also want to avoid putting excessive weight on your knee for a few days after the injection.
New tissues should begin growing within several days of the treatment. You should schedule a follow-up appointment after a few weeks to ensure that the process is going well and that you will not need additional injections.
What Are the Risks?
Overall, PRP therapy is a very low-risk, high-reward procedure. Similar to stem cell therapy, PRP utilizes natural substances and cells in the body. It is a regenerative process that allows the body to do most of the work. Since the cells are coming from within the patient’s body, there is almost no risk of an allergic reaction.
For many patients, it has significantly improved their journey to recovery. Whether it is used as a treatment for osteoarthritis or surgery, PRP therapy only has a few potential side effects.
- Blood clots: Since platelets form blood clots to stop bleeding, it makes sense that this would be a potential side effect. This is a rare repercussion, especially for our patients here at Arizona Pain and Spine Institute.
- Pain at the injection site: This side effect should not be a significant bother, especially since you probably already have pain in that area. For a patient with osteoarthritis, you may experience additional pain in your knee joint. The pain will be short-lived and should not be more severe than the pain from your osteoarthritis.
- Mild nausea: This is a very rare side effect.
- Local infection: Again, this is very rare. We take precautions to make sure that we sterilize our materials to prevent this from happening.
Is PRP Right for Me?
If you are suffering with knee pain from osteoarthritis, injections of platelet rich plasma could accelerate your recovery.
The treatment is still considered experimental and health professionals are still conducting clinical studies. According to article from Arthritis Health, studies have shown that knee injections of PRP provide more pain relief than placebo injections.
If you are interested in using a PRP injection in the knee to combat your osteoarthritis, schedule an appointment today. Our passionate team at Arizona Pain and Spine Institute wants to help you overcome the severe pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis.