Imagine a patient living with osteoarthritis in the knees for more than a decade. The patient has been taking pain medication for years, and now he’s facing a surgical procedure he really wants no part of. His doctor recommends a round of simple PRP injections as an alternative.
Osteoarthritis is among the most common orthopedic issues in the world. Unfortunately, treatment options are both limited and not as effective as medical science would like them to be. A fair number of osteoarthritis patients live with the condition until they can no longer stand it, ultimately electing to have affected joints replaced.
PRP Injections for Osteoarthritis
So what about those simple PRP injections? A growing body of evidence shows they can help ease the pain and repair the damage of osteoarthritis. A great post from Doc Wire’s Kaitlyn D’Onofrio cites three of those studies, all of which offer powerful evidence in support of PRP injections for orthopedic issues.
The effectiveness of PRP therapy is not yet settled science. But we are getting there. In the meantime, the beauty of PRP therapy is its simplicity. There is nothing complicated about it. PRP therapy is built on the concept of encouraging the body to heal itself.
PRP therapy is not about replacing parts that don’t work. It is not about masking the symptoms of osteoarthritis without actually addressing the underlying problem. It’s not about injecting potentially dangerous substances that really shouldn’t be used long-term. PRP therapy is all about using what the body already produces to encourage it to do a better job of healing itself.
The Typical PRP Treatment
PRP therapy for osteoarthritis is simple enough that it can be offered as an outpatient procedure at a primary care office. Needless to say that orthopedists and sports medicine doctors can utilize the procedure as well.
A typical treatment begins with a blood draw. Current FDA regulations already allow the use of minimally manipulated, autologous material without further permission, which is why patients donate their own blood for the treatment. That blood is processed in a centrifuge in order to isolate platelets.
After processing, the resulting material is injected directly into the affected joint. It should be noted that injection sites have to be carefully chosen. According to the Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute, more and more doctors are relying on imaging technologies to help them find the best injection sites.
That’s All There is to It
What has just been described is essentially all there is to PRP therapy. The treatment involves a blood draw followed by an injection. That’s it. With every injection, the platelets and their associated growth factors go to work to signal the body that healing is required. How well the body responds generally determines how successful the treatment is.
It should be noted that PRP therapy is no different than any other osteoarthritis treatment in that not all patients respond the same way. Some patients report significant healing over the course of several treatments. Others report pain reduction without necessarily seeing any healing, while still others report no relief whatsoever.
The one thing common to all is that there are no side effects or complications from the procedure, other than the pain associated with the blood draw and injections. And because the injected material is autologous, there is no risk of rejection. That automatically makes PRP therapy more palatable than joint replacement surgery to a lot of patience.
PRP therapy is simple. Its simplicity is also its strength, as evidenced by the many patients who have already been helped by it.