Injections of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) are a novel treatment for managing pain related to osteoarthritis (OA) of the knees.
If you have osteoarthritis — the gradual wearing down of your joint bones’ protective cartilage — or rheumatoid arthritis — in which your immune system attacks healthy tissues in your joints — you’ve probably relied on drugs to manage your pain so you can get through your day. But if you don’t like the idea of taking medications long-term and you’re worried about the side effects, we may have a solution for you.
You may have heard about how athletes use cutting-edge injections of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy to accelerate healing after they’ve injured themselves. So is PRP is right for you, too? If PRP injections can help athletes like professional golfer Tiger Woods repair ligaments and even bone, could it help normalize and heal your joint tissues?
Our expert rheumatologists recommend PRP for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other types of joint pain. The PRP serum works with your own body’s healing processes to repair your joints so they don’t hurt anymore.
PRP is all you
Once our doctors determine that your joint pain could respond to PRP, the process starts with a simple blood draw. We use a syringe to take a few tablespoons of blood from your arm. Our technicians then spin the blood in a specialized, sterile centrifuge that separates the liquid (plasma) from the solids, and then further separates out the small cell fragments known as platelets.
Platelets are plate-shaped cell fragments filled with growth factors. When you’re injured, your body naturally rushes blood to the site of injury, which is why you notice swelling after you’ve been cut or bruised. The platelets in your blood coagulate to prevent blood loss and start the healing process by triggering your body to rebuild tissue.
We super-concentrate these healing platelets by mixing them back into just a small amount of your plasma. The resulting serum has up to 10 times the amount of platelets as non-concentrated blood. Because the PRP serum is made from your own blood, it’s a biologically compatible therapy that your body doesn’t reject, and it has no side effects.
PRP subdues inflammation
Once the PRP serum is ready, we inject it directly into the site of your pain and discomfort. The growth factors stimulate your body to produce fibroblasts and endothelial cells, which reduce inflammation. The growth factors also help your body produce healthy new blood vessels, increasing circulation to the area to accelerate repair and flush away waste materials.
PRP regrows damaged tissue
Your body already works to repair damaged tissue, but when you have degraded or inflamed cartilage in your joints, your body can’t keep up. The PRP accelerates and boosts healing, so your body can actually repair significant amounts of damage that it can’t handle by itself.
Research has shown that PRP can actually help you regenerate cartilage that’s been degraded by osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Who can benefit from PRP?
PRP is an experimental therapy, and experts do not currently recommend its use. If you are considering PRP injections, start by asking your doctor for their advice.
Since PRP injections are experimental, there is limited evidence about how safe and effective they are. In addition, your insurance policy may not cover them.
Work closely with your doctor before starting any experimental treatments, and ensure that any provider is fully qualified to offer this treatment.
PRP lets you move again
Because PRP is a regenerative therapy that helps your body repair itself, you regain mobility and comfort in your joints over the weeks to months after your injections. You may start to notice a difference in how you feel in just a few weeks. Your improvements continue as your body builds healthy new tissues over the next six months.
Most women and men with joint pain need a series of PRP injections to get the level of improvement they want. We also recommend yearly touch-ups to keep your joints healthy.
Find out how we provide PRP treatment for joints, apply for a free consultation here.