PRP for Knees
Knee osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the bones in the knee joint starts to break down. As the cartilage degenerates, the bones begin to grate against each other, which leads to stiffness and pain in the knee. The pain may not even ease up when the patient is at rest. The patient may even hear a crackling noise as the bones come into contact. The knee may swell, though it is neither hot to the touch nor red. Sometimes, the body compensates by laying down calcium in the knee joint, which only causes more pain.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the knee
Osteoarthritis in general usually affects people over 50, though younger people can be subject to it. It affects more women than men and is worsened by obesity. Among its causes are the normal wear and tear the knee has to endure on a daily basis, injury and overused or weak muscles around the knee. Heredity also has a part to play in knee arthritis. If a close family member has or had arthritis, the patient is at higher risk of getting it themselves.
Treatment for Knee Pain
There are several treatments for knee arthritis. They range from exercise to alternating warm and cold compresses on the knee, acupuncture, braces or supports. Patients have resorted to partial or full knee replacement surgery if these more conservative methods don’t work. Lately, pain management and orthopedic specialist have been turning to PRP, or platelet-rich plasma to treat knee arthritis and other forms of arthritis. Platelets are tiny bits of cytoplasm found in the blood and are vital in blood clotting.
How PRP Therapy for the Knee Works
PRP therapy is not as new as it seems, for it was first used during a heart operation in 1987. The concept behind it depends on the fact that the platelets are rich of growth factors. These growth factors stimulate healing as well as attract stem cells in the arthritic knee when they are injected.
Another good thing about PRP is that it uses the patient’s blood, so there is no chance of rejection. The patient does not need to make special preparations such as fasting before the injections.
Extracting the PRP from Your Blood
When they arrive at their doctor’s office, the patient donates some of their blood. The tubes are put in a centrifuge to separate the platelets, red and white blood cells and plasma. There are about 500,000 platelets per cubic millimeter of blood, and eventually, the doctor ends up with five to ten times that number. The area of injection is first numbed with a prescription strength topical anesthetic. The platelets are purified, then injected into the patient’s knee.
The entire process takes about a half an hour and is an outpatient procedure. This means the patient can go home after a brief period of rest.
Platelet Rich Plasma for Lasting Relief
PRP does not cure arthritis. As of 2017, arthritis is not curable. However, studies show that most people who have PRP injections for their knee arthritis do find some relief from the pain. Though it may take the patient a few weeks to see results, PRP injections do work better than placebos or gel. Other studies show that the progression of the arthritis was slowed down a bit after PRP injections. This makes PRP injections for arthritis an interesting area of study for researchers.