PRP Therapy For Chronic Knee Pain
Patients who suffer from chronic knee pain may consider platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments to alleviate their symptoms. The promotion of PRP therapy as a natural alternative to surgery has helped it to gain popularity in recent years, especially since athletes such as Tiger Woods have praised the treatment and its ability to speed up the healing process.
While most support of this procedure has come from anecdotal evidence, studies on PRP are gaining new momentum. For example, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research found that PRP injections were more effective in treating knee osteoarthritis pain than other injections, such as corticosteroids. These results followed those of a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Sports, which found that three rounds of PRP injections reduced symptoms of chronic patellar tendinopathy. Armed with this new information, patients may turn to PRP therapy when traditional methods such as anti-inflammatories or cortisol injections are being overused or no longer have the desired effect.
PRP treatments consist of drawing a portion of the patient’s own blood and placing the sample into a centrifuge. This causes the blood to separate into its components: plasma, red and white blood cells, and platelets. Because platelets contain growth factors that aid in healing blood vessel injuries, it is believed that providing an increased concentration to a specific area can accelerate the natural healing process. Therefore, platelet-rich plasma is extracted from the centrifuge and injected into the affected area, which will have already been numbed by a local anesthetic. The entire procedure takes less than an hour.
Although there is minimal risk involved due to using the patient’s own blood, this also means that the results can vary due to the differences in each patient’s blood. Plus, an optimal concentration of platelets has not been established, which adds to the variation in results. As with any injection, infection is still a minor risk, and patients might experience soreness or pain at the injection location for several days following the treatment. Patients should refrain from taking anti-inflammatories for some time prior to and following the treatment, but they can treat the residual pain with painkillers or by applying ice for twenty minute intervals.
While some patients may benefit from single injections, most studies indicate that the effectiveness of the treatment improves after repeated treatments over the course of several months, with the injections being given every eight to twelve weeks. However, as cortisone injections can weaken ligaments and tendons over time, PRP therapy may be preferable as a long-term solution. Plus, it is considered a more permanent fix, as the intention is to enhance the body’s natural healing process.
PRP injections are still considered experimental, and so the treatment is not always covered under insurance. According to an article in Scientific American, PRP treatments cost between $500 to $2,000, and sometimes several injections must be administered in order to achieve the desired effect. Masri Sports Medicine is proud to offer PRP Therapy for chronic knee pain at multiple locations throughout New Jersey. Physicians continue to recommend PRP therapy as a low-risk alternative to surgery.
Charousset C, Zaoui A, Bellaiche L, Bouyer B. Are multiple platelet-rich plasma injections useful for treatment of chronic patellar tendinopathy in athletes?: a prospective study. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2014;42(4): 906-911. doi.org/10.1177/0363546513519964
Kavadar G, Demircioglu DT, Celik MY, Emre TY. Effectiveness of platelet-rich plasma in the treatment of moderate knee osteoarthritis: a randomized prospective study. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2015;27(12):3863-3867. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.3863.
Nall R. What you need to know about PRP. Medical News Today. 2017. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320107.php. Accessed January 17, 2018.
Shen L, Yuan T, Chen S, Xie X, Zhang C. The temporal effect of platelet-rich plasma on pain and physical function in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research. 2017;12:16. doi:10.1186/s13018-017-0521-3.
Storrs C. Is platelet-rich plasma an effective healing therapy? Scientific American. 2009. Http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/platelet-rich-plasma-therapy-dennis-cardone-sports-medicine-injury/. Accessed January 17, 2018.