PRP injection for knee osteoarthritis is a new pain management intervention. Find out more about it.
In this article:
- What Is Knee Osteoarthritis?
- What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
- What Are PRP Injections?
- Why Should Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis Consider PRP Injections?
- Who Is a Good Candidate for PRP Treatment?
- Where in the Body Are PRP Treatments Injected?
- When Can Knee Osteoarthritis Heal Following PRP Knee Injections?
- How Should Patients Prepare for PRP Treatment?
- What Should Patients Expect from the Procedure?
- What Should Patients Do After the Procedure?
PRP Injection for Knee Osteoarthritis: Put a Spring Back in Your Step
What Is Knee Osteoarthritis?
Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative type of arthritis. This “wear-and-tear” condition usually occurs in people aged 50 years and older but can occur in younger individuals as well.
With osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the knee joint will wear away gradually, becoming frayed and rough. This then decreases the protective space between the bones resulting in bone rubbing on bone and producing painful spurs or projections.
What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
Blood is mainly plasma which contains tiny solid components namely, platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells. Platelets contain proteins called growth factors which are important in healing injuries.
Platelet-rich plasma or PRP is plasma which contains a higher number of platelets than what is normally found in the blood. The platelet concentration of PRP treatments and the concentration of growth factors is 5 to 10 times richer than normal.
What Are PRP Injections?
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are prepared using a patient’s concentration of platelets taken from their blood sample. The PRP treatment makes use of the body’s natural healing system in improving the patient’s musculoskeletal problems.
The activated platelets will then be directly injected into the affected body tissue. They will release growth factors, stimulating and increasing the number of reparative cells produced by the body.
PRP therapy can help speed up the healing process of injured muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons.
Why Should Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis Consider PRP Injections?
Platelet-rich plasma knee injections can help heal painful knee injuries and conditions, by using the patient’s own blood sample. This is how they differ from other traditional methods of managing osteoarthritis knee pain like cortisone injections, anti-inflammatory medicines, surgery, and physical therapy.
PRP injection knee osteoarthritis therapy can help reduce inflammation in the affected area by restoring hyaluronic acid, a clear substance in the body that repairs damaged or aging tissues, through growth factors in the platelets. They signal cell division and migration, eventually promoting tissue formation.
Who Is a Good Candidate for PRP Treatment?
Patients who find it challenging to manage their knee osteoarthritis may consider PRP knee injections.
PRP therapy is beneficial for people with trauma or sports-related injuries in the knees or legs, like refractory jumper’s knee, an injury caused by overloaded jumping, and plantar fasciitis, an injury caused by running.
PRP treatments can also help patients who suffer from lower back pain, tennis elbow, degenerative joint disease, and even hair loss. The growth factors in PRP can help stimulate accelerated hair growth.
Where in the Body Are PRP Treatments Injected?
PRP injections are administered directly in the affected area where the joint, ligament, or tendon is damaged. PRP treatment can also be injected in areas where the patient feels pain.
The injection process will sometimes require the use of an ultrasound. It helps doctors find the appropriate injection site.
When Can Knee Osteoarthritis Heal Following PRP Knee Injections?
Patients who undergo PRP treatment knee osteoarthritis may begin to notice a reduction in stiffness and pain between six weeks and three months. There may also be a significant improvement in knee function and mobility within this time.
A study on the efficacy of PRP injections for knee osteoarthritis reports that after six months, knee function and pain were better than before PRP treatment. The fact that the patient’s knee osteoarthritis condition did not become worse is also a significant finding.
How Should Patients Prepare for PRP Treatment?
Before the PRP treatment, patients should consult with their doctor about the best way for them to prepare based on their particular case.
In general, doctors will advise patients to prepare for the procedure with the following guidelines:
- Avoid taking anti-inflammatory medicines one week before the PRP treatment.
- Provide an MRI of the knee so the doctor can determine the extent of the damage.
- Prepare the possibility of using crutches up to two days after the injection.
- Have someone drive them home.
What Should Patients Expect from the Procedure?
In the initial part of the procedure, the doctor will draw a blood sample from the patient. They will put in the blood sample into a centrifuge for 15 minutes.
The centrifuge is responsible for separating the blood into different compounds:
- red blood cells
- white blood cells
This sample is what the doctor will use to extract platelet-rich plasma. They will numb the knee of the patient and inject the PRP treatment into the area.
The site of the PRP injection may be tender after the treatment, but it should not feel painful. Some patients can develop a bruise or a small wound at the injection site.
The patient is required to rest for 15 minutes before being discharged. The entire procedure will take around one hour.
What Should Patients Do After the Procedure?
After the procedure, the patient will need to apply a cold compress on their affected knee every 2 to 3 hours for around 20 minutes for each turn. This should be done for 3 days.
Patients can also take medication to help manage pain and uncomfortable sensations. Doctors will advise patients to limit their physical activity and avoid activities which put weight or strain on the knees.
Patients may need the use of crutches to help keep weight off of their knees during the recovery period. After 6 to 8 weeks, a follow-up check-up will be done to assess the effectiveness of the treatment and the status of the patient’s knee osteoarthritis.
If the patient experiences severe swelling, they should contact their doctor immediately. After treatment, physical therapy can help the patient restore their mobility in the joints, prevent their condition from worsening, and reduce risks of future injuries.
Watch this quick video of PRP treatment for knee procedure from Matt Murphy:
Osteoarthritis need not totally hinder you from living your best life. PRP injection for knee osteoarthritis treatment can help regain back their movement and mobility.
It is also important for adults to consume a healthy mix of daily vitamins. We recommend this Vitamin D3 supplement.
Would you elect to undergo PRP injection for knee osteoarthritis? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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