Many of will notice our joints grow stiffer, click more often and are more painful as we grow older. However for some this may become a debilitation and chronically painful condition. Osteoarthritis – also known as degenerative or wear and tear arthritis – is estimated to affect around 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60. For many, the condition isn’t helped by steroid injections or pain pills and there is a desperate need to look into new therapies to treat the condition. Platelet-rich plasma therapy may be just that treatment.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that in all joints of the body – however, it is most likely to occur in the knee or hip. In the normally functioning joint, there is a protective layer known as the cartilage. The cartilage acts as a shock absorber that stops bone on bone contact (which may be painful). In a knee suffering from osteoarthritis, this cartilage wears down so that bone on bone contact occurs. This can result in significant pain for the individual involved.
What is platelet rich plasma therapy?
Platelet-rich plasma therapy opens up a new and exciting avenue of treatment for a whole host of diseases. In PRP a sample of a patient’s blood is taken and centrifuged to separate out its different constituents. Scientists then remove the platelets and plasma which are re-injected back into the patient. These platelets help the healing process and enhance the natural healing capacity of the body. Arguably they may have many roles but there is evidence for them working in tendinopathies and now osteoarthritis.
Does platelet-rich plasma therapy work for osteoarthritis?
A number of studies have looked at the effects of platelet-rich plasma therapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis. The most comprehensive of these was a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in which 78 patients underwent treatment. They were separated into 1 of 3 groups. Group A received a single injection of PRP (52 knees/26 patients), group B received 2 injections and group C had an injection of salt water. Their pain was assessed before the treatment and at 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months after treatment.
They found that:
- There was a statistically significant improvement in pain ratings for patients who have either one or two injections of PRP within 2 to 3 weeks and lasted until the final follow up at 6 months
- There was little difference between the group that got one injection versus the group that got two injections
The ended up concluding that
“A single dose of … PRP … is as effective as 2 injections to alleviate symptoms in early knee OA … Both groups treated with PRP had better results than did the group injected with saline only.”
If you or somebody you know is suffering from the pain of osteoarthritis, get in contact with a specialist center that offers PRP therapy today.