Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a popular, revolutionary treatment for the joint pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis and some traumatic injuries.
PRP therapy for chronic joint conditions has generated a lot of interest since those conditions affect so many people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 25 percent of all adults may develop a chronic joint condition. PRP therapy is increasingly used for other purposes, too, such as hair and skin treatments and muscle injury repair.
What is PRP?
Platelets are the cells in your blood tasked with helping your blood to clot. They also contain cytokines (immune elements) and growth factors that promote cell growth and healing. In PRP therapy, a doctor draws your blood, which is then spun in a centrifuge to separate and concentrate the platelets.
This process usually increases the platelet content in a particular amount of plasma up to five times than otherwise would be present. This platelet-rich plasma is then injected into injured tissues to promote healing and regeneration of tendons and cartilage.
Your doctor may recommend several sessions of PRP therapy in order to alleviate your pain and inflammation. Symptoms may be noticeably reduced in as early as 2 weeks.
How is PRP Different From Other Treatments?
Weight loss, physical therapy, and orthotics (support devices such as knee braces) are the most common treatments for mild osteoarthritis. These treatments may provide some relief from the pain, inflammation, and stiffness caused by the condition. But, if these symptoms don’t improve or if they get worse, medications including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), or even opioids, may be prescribed by your doctor.
However, the ongoing opioid addiction epidemic and certain side effects of NSAIDs can make these treatments problematic. Experts now suggest these medications don’t address the cause behind the pain and other options should be explored. PRP provides that alternative approach: its aim is to restore your health by directly healing your damaged tissues.
Does PRP Work?
PRP treatment can bring positive and longer-lasting results to patients with moderate osteoarthritis. PRP may also help some patients delay or even avoid knee replacement surgery altogether, but not everyone responds the same way to PRP-based treatments. PRP therapy is relatively new, so analysis of its results is still ongoing.
Commonly reported side effects of PRP therapy include pain at the site of injection (usually lasting for less than 24 hours) or a dull pain at the joint area, lasting for less than a week.
A 2015 study, published in the Journal of Physical Therapy, concluded that PRP can effectively treat moderate pain and limited mobility in patients with osteoarthritis. It also indicated that at least two PRP sessions would be appropriate in these situations.
To schedule an appointment to learn about PRP therapy or any of the more traditional therapy options, please call our Brecksville office at (440) 746-1730, or our Twinsburg office at (330) 963-2920. Same-day appointments may often be available. You may also submit an appointment request via our appointment request form.