PRP Treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis

PRP Treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is degenerative disease of the joints, and the most common chronic condition of the joints. It occurs when the cushion between the cartilage of the joints suffers from “wear and tear.” There is an estimated 27 million Americans affected by osteoarthritis. While it can affect any joint, it is more common in the knees, hips, lower back and neck, and small joints such as the fingers. Since cartilage provides a smooth surface between the bones, when it breaks down it can cause pain and swelling. In addition, if osteoarthritis continues to worsen, it may cause bones to break down and may develop growths known as spurs.

Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis is a common chronic condition that can lead to considerable discomfort, pain and joint inflammation. Due to its location, knee OA can considerably limit motion and freedom. Knee replacements are commonly used for older adults and are quite effective. However, due to the replacement knee’s lifespan, less invasive nonsurgical interventions are preferred for younger individuals.

PRP Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis

Although current medication-based therapies have not shown long-term benefits, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment has shown promising preliminary results.

PRP is the injection of a blood product with high concentrations of human growth factors. By injecting PRP at the site of the injury, physicians hope to spur natural growing processes with these resources and nutrients. There have been promising preclinical findings and potential aspirations, but we do not fully understand PRP’s wide risks and benefits, as Dai et al. set out to discover.

Recent PRP for Knee Osteoarthritis Study

The safety and efficacy of PRP injections in treatment of knee OA was investigated in a recent study published in the Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery, Dai et al. The researchers gathered data from previous studies with PRP injections for knee OA treatment and compared it to other forms of treatment or no treatment at all. Patients were evaluated based on a number of osteoarthritis index scores, including the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), as well as adverse effects of the injections. Independent reviewers were included to assess risk of bias in the various studies selected.

The study showed that six months following injections of either hyaluronic acid (current treatment) or PRP injections, no significant differences in pain relief or functional improvement were observed. However, at twelve months, PRP injections showed significant improvements in both measure compared to hyaluronic acid and saline (control) injections. In addition, PRP did not increase the incidence of adverse effects in patients. PRP injections are used in the treatment of several musculoskeletal deficiencies, and the results of this study indicate they may also offer relief to patients suffering from knee OA. While concerns arise from pro-inflammatory factors that these injections may release, pain and function were significantly improved long-term in comparison to other treatments. It should be noted that several of the studies differed in solution preparation, and a more controlled, individual study may be warranted. Regardless, the findings of this meta-analysis indicate that PRP therapy has potential for use in treatment of knee OA.


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