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PRP FOR JOINTS AND PAIN MANAGEMENT
PRP therapy, also known as autologous conditioned plasma (ACP) therapy, tries to take advantage of the blood’s natural properties of healing to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles and even bone. Even though this therapy is not considered standard practice, a majority of people are turning to PRP injections to treat orthopedic conditions including osteoarthritis.
Most commonly PRP Injections are used for knee osteoarthritis but are also used in numerous other applications on other joints and pain management. The purpose of the direct PRP injection straight in to the area of the affected joint is to:
- Reduce pain
- Improve the functions of joints
- Slow, stop or repair damaged cartilage
The platelet rich plasma is harvested from the patient’s blood. The injections contain plasma that has higher concentrations of platelets as compared to normal blood. The quality of the PRP injection varies from one patient to another because of:
- The patient’s characteristics- the number of platelets vary from one person to another
- Blood processing- the centrifuge and filtering affects the concentration of platelets as well as white blood cells in a PRP injection
- Additives- doctors may augment platelet-rich plasma with substances that are thought to boost the PRP’s healing properties.
Doctors using PRP therapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis theorize that the platelet-rich plasma may:
- Prevent inflammation and slow down the advancement of osteoarthritis
- Trigger the formation of fresh cartilage
- Increase the production of natural lubricating fluids in the joint, resulting in reduced painful joint friction
- Contains a protein that changes a person’s receptors and reduces painful sensations
Furthermore, this therapy has been useful in surgeries to promote regeneration of cells and studies have shown that it is a viable treatment for tendinosis. A majority of studies support the use of PRP in the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Treatment of knee osteoarthritis treated with PRP
Researchers studying PRP and osteoarthritis mostly deal with patients of knee osteoarthritis. This is a condition that is estimated to affect almost half of all Americans at a certain point in life. A study published in 2013, involved over seventy patients with osteoarthritis in both knees. Each of the knees received one of these three treatments; 1 injection of PRP, 2 PRP injections or one placebo saline injection. Researchers then carried out an assessment on the knees after six weeks, three months and six months after injection. The results were:
- Knees treated with one or two injections of PRP saw a reduction in pain and stiffness as well as enhanced function of the knees at six weeks and three months.
- After six months, positive results reduced even though pain and function were still better than before the treatment
- The group that was given placebo injections had a small increase in pain and stiffness, as well as deterioration in knee function
In the second study, patients who had experienced mild knee pain for an average of fourteen months were examined. Each arthritic knee had one PRP injection after an MRI that assessed the joint damage. Thereafter, the knees were assessed at one week, three months and one year intervals.
The outcome was:
- A year after receiving a PR injection, a majority of the patients had less pain than they had the year before even though the pain hadn’t completely disappeared.
- MRI’s also showed that the degenerative process had not progressed in the majority of knees.
Even though knee cartilage didn’t seem to regenerate, the arthritis did not worsen and showed progress.
PRP Injections for Pain
PRP can relieve pain by naturally encouraging long-lasting healing of musculoskeletal conditions. People have common used PRP for athletic injuries which have shown to enable them to resume regular activities with minimal or no pain.Examples of conditions that have seen improvement with PRP are:
- Lumbar spine disc pain
- Shoulder pain and instability
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Tennis and golfer’s elbow
- Hamstring pains
- Ankle sprains
It can also be effective in several cases of osteoarthritis such as:
- Knee arthritis
- Shoulder arthritis
- Hip joint arthritis
- Ankle arthritis