Osteoarthritis of the knee is responsible for significant pain and disability. Over the years, PRP injections, or Platelet Rich Plasma injections have grown in popularity to treat people with knee osteoarthritis.
What Is Knee Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is generally due to wear and tear on the knee. Genetics also plays a role. If your siblings and parents have osteoarthritis of the knee then there is a strong likelihood that you might suffer from it as well. Previous injuries or trauma can also lead to arthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis involves a gradual loss of cartilage from the ends of the bones in the knee. The cartilage gradually wears away, both from mechanical sources (your weight, or a prior injury), or the cartilage may wear away because of the hostile chemicals your knee produces when the arthritic process starts. When Osteoarthritis of the knee sets in many will notice swelling, clicking, grinding and you may also have pain even at rest and at night. Unfortunately, arthritis cannot be reversed or cured. But many physicians have started offering their patients injections of PRP to treat their knee arthritis pain. Over the years there has been growing evidence that PRP can help moderate the pain of knee arthritis and improve the quality of life.
What is a PRP Injection?
When PRP injections for knee arthritis are performed, a small sample of the blood is taken, prepared in a centrifuge and then a portion of your blood is injected back into your knee. This is typically a 30 minute office visit. PRP injections are very safe. If the blood is taken from the body under sterile conditions and your knee is prepared with appropriate antiseptics then the risk of infection or other complications is very low.
What Is In A Platelet-Rich Plasma Injection?
All PRP injections are not the same. The exact make-up of platelet-rich plasma depends on several variables, including the concentration of platelets, the concentration of white blood cells, and the use of additives.
Concentration Of Platelets
Normal blood has 150, 000 to 450, 000 platelets per microliter (μL), and the concentration of platelets in platelet-rich plasma can vary from 2.5 to 9 times that. Concentration levels depend on the individual's blood, how much blood was drawn, the centrifuge process (e.g., rotation speed and duration), and other clinical preparation methods. While it may seem logical that plasma with the highest possible platelet concentration will get better results than plasma with a lower platelet concentration, that is not necessarily the case. One lab study suggested that plasma with concentrations 2.5 times that of normal blood was ideal, and higher concentrations might actually limit new cell growth. More research is needed in this area.
White Blood Cell Count
The immune system depends on white blood cells to fight infection, but the cells' role in PRP therapy is unclear. Some experts suspect that white blood cells inhibit tissues' ability to heal, perhaps promoting inflammation, scar tissue, and damage to nearby tissues. Other experts think that, while white blood cells may not aid tissue healing, they have no negative effects, or may have beneficial effects. As with the concentration of platelets, the concentration of white blood cells is determined by an individual's blood as well as clinical preparation methods. Some doctors mix additives into the platelet-rich plasma. These additives, called thrombin and calcium chloride, artificially activate the platelets, stimulate clotting, and may enhance platelet-rich plasma’s regenerative properties.
Are PRP Injections Effective For Knee Arthritis Pain?
Most of the studies show that PRP injection given to moderate knee arthritis pain is effective. The injections appear to be more effective than “gel” injections, and they also appear to be more effective than placebo injections. It is important to understand — PRP injections for knee arthritis will not cure the arthritis. One study did show less progression or worsening of the arthritis after PRP injections. This is a very hot area for research right now. Presently, there are no injections available to cure your arthritis. PRP is simply something we can offer you to try and minimize the pain that you are suffering because of the arthritis.