Do Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections Work

Recent Study Shows That Platelet Rich Plasma Injections (PRP) Show Great Promise

A study by researchers from Hospital for Special Surgery has shown that platelet rich plasma injections (PRP) holds great promise for treating patients with knee osteoarthritis.  The platelet rich plasma injections improved pain and function of the knee and in more than 70% of the patients, the PRP injections appeared to delay the onset of osteoarthritis of the knee.  The study will appear in The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine.

Osteoarthritis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are other treatments for osteoarthritis including exercise, viscosupplementation, bracing, medications, and cortisone shots.  PRP differs from these other treatments in that it’s produced from a patient’s own blood to deliver a high concentration of growth factors to cartilage to potentially enhance healing.  It’s produced by taking blood from the patient, spinning it down in a centrifuge and then injecting the concentrated platelets into the patient’s knee.  It’s believed that this activates the patient’s growth factors and stem cells to repair the cartilage, decrease arthritic symptoms and reduce inflammation.

In past PRP studies, the effects of the platelet rich plasma injections were assessed by asking patients about their pain and function levels.  Because the data are subjective, there’s always the potential for a “placebo effect” or bias in the responses.  In the latest study, MRI was used to evaluate the knee cartilage of study participants and the radiologists reading the MRIs were not told which MRIs were from PRP-treated patients and which were from patients before PRP injections.

Previous studies have shown that patients with osteoarthritis can lose about five percent of their knee cartilage every year.  However, the latest PRP study showed that with PRP treatment, a large majority of patients had no further cartilage loss.  Pain was also reduced significantly as was the ability to perform normal daily activities.

“We are entering into an era of biologic treatment, which is incredibly ideal, where you can use your own cells to try to help repair your other cells, rather than using a substance that is artificial,” said Dr. Brian Halpern, lead author of the study. “The downside is next to zero and the upside is huge.” Dr. Halpern pointed out, however, that the study is a small case series and PRP needs to be pitted against a traditionally treated group in a randomized, controlled trial.

Are Platelet Rich Plasma Injections Right for You?

If you’re experiencing knee pain due to arthritis, please call our office at 281-633-8600 for an evaluation.  We’ll talk about PRP and other treatment options available and develop a treatment plan tailored to meet your goals.

Dr. J. Michael Bennett is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and a Fellowship Trained Sports Medicine Specialist with clinics in Houston and Sugar Land.  He specializes in treating injuries and pathologies of the shoulders, elbows, knees and hands.



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