Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is an autologous (derived from self) blood product used in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis as well as some ligament and tendon injuries. PRP is created by obtaining a small amount of blood via peripheral blood draw and concentrating the blood sample through centrifugation and isolation of a concentrated plasma product. The concentrated plasma product contains a high concentration of platelets and growth factors which have important roles in regulating inflammation as well as bone and blood vessel remodeling. Following concentration, the plasma product is injected into the knee joint. The entire office procedure takes less than 30 minutes.
PRP contains numerous growth factors involved in knee arthritis treatment, including tissue growth factor β (TGF-β), insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) , vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), epidermal growth factor (EGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). These individual growth factors have shown numerous actions in laboratory studies which may support cell signaling, differentiation and migration of cartilage cells, cartilage proliferation, and cartilage repair. While we don’t fully understand how PRP works in vivo (in the human body), we believe it improves the quality of joint fluid and modulates inflammation.
To date, studies support PRP as a treatment for knee arthritis to decrease pain, relieve stiffness, improve quality of life, and delay the need for total knee replacement.
It is important to note that biologic injections like PRP do not “cure” knee arthritis. In addition, no study has yet demonstrated increased cartilage thickness or increased joint space.
PRP utilizes your body’s own natural properties to treat knee arthritis pain. Potential risks of the procedure are similar to that of other knee injections, including pain, infection, and bleeding. Side effects are very uncommon as the patient is treated with their own concentrated plasma.
PRP is currently available at Ortho Rhode Island as a treatment option for pain secondary to knee arthritis, as well as certain ligament and tendon injuries. While PRP treatment has been used to treat knee arthritis for many years, most insurance companies still consider this treatment experimental and deny coverage. If you are interested in PRP injections, your physician can help determine whether this treatment is right for you.