Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy: An Alternative to Knee Surgery

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy: An Alternative to Knee Surgery

When someone suffers from osteoarthritis, the cartilage between the knee and shin bone deteriorates, resulting in painful bone-on-bone interaction. Until recently, it was thought that there was no way to regenerate the cartilage once it wears away. Osteoarthritis sufferers were forced to either find a way to manage the pain or undergo knee surgery. A growing number of people are choosing to receive platelet-rich plasma therapy as an alternative healing method.

What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy?

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy attempts to regrow cartilage, muscle, tendons, and bones by using the natural healing properties in blood. While platelets themselves do not have any healing properties, platelets emit growth factors to help stimulate tissue regeneration and promote healing. 

Platelet-rich plasma is made from a sample of the patient’s blood. The blood sample is processed to increase the number platelets found in the plasma. This is done by placing the blood sample in a centrifuge and spinning it at very high speeds in order for the blood to separate into three layers: platelet poor plasma, platelet rich plasma, and red blood cells. A PRP solution is then made from the layer of platelet rich plasma and some additives that activate the platelets healing and regenerative properties. The processed, platelet-rich plasma is then injected into the affected area in the knee to stimulate growth and regeneration. 

PRP Therapy and Knee Osteoarthritis 

Because PRP therapy is a fairly new treatment, there are still a lot of ongoing case studies on the topic. Generally, the consensus among researchers is that PRP therapy is a good treatment option for those suffering with tendonitis. 

One study on osteoarthritis showed that those who were injected with 1 – 2 PRP injections (versus those who did not receive any treatment) saw an improvement in knee function and felt a reduction of pain and stiffness within 3 months. While many people have had success with PRP therapy, it is important to note that this treatment may not be for everyone. Because it uses the patient’s own blood as the sample, certain people may not be compatible with the process. Or, the patient may need PRP therapy along with other treatment methods in order to see results. Every patient is different — which is consistent with all osteoarthritis treatments. 

Pros and Cons of PRP Therapy

Because PRP therapy uses the patient’s own blood for the sample, PRP therapy is a natural injection and therefore, there are very few risks associated with trying this therapy. If the therapy works, it can regenerate cells and, in essence, reverse the damage done by tendonitis or osteoarthritis. Comparatively, other forms of osteoarthritis treatments can have side effects (i.e. taking over-the-counter medicine daily can lead to stomach pain or heart problems), or only provide temporary relief. 

While there are potential advantages to PRP therapy, it’s also good to note that this treatment is still new and researchers haven’t been able to prove or understand how PRP therapy regenerates cells the way that it does. Scientists are still working out the exact treatment levels needed, the frequency of injections, and what the best additives should be to make the therapy most effective. 

Overall, some doctors believe that due to the low risks and high potential gains, PRP therapy is a good alternative to knee surgery for patients suffering from osteoarthritis. If you are considering researching PRP therapy, reach out to a doctor, like a knee doctor from Premier Osteoarthritis Centers of Pennsylvania. They can help you determine if PRP therapy is a good choice to help relieve your knee pain.  

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