An Advancement in Knee Pain and Joint Therapy
The human body has an inherent ability to heal tissue, but in certain areas that capacity is inadequate. New cells are created all the time in the body, in order to replace old or damaged tissue, but, with age, this capability decreases. Even in younger individuals, sometimes knee cartilage is slow to regenerate. Certain conditions, such as degenerative arthritis, can cause severe joint pain, and conventional medicine offers treatment that may mask the pain temporarily, but not alter the condition itself. With the help of regenerative medicine and options such as platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP), things are changing right now to repair damaged tissue.
How Does Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy Work?
Human blood contains mostly red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, and plasma. Platelets exist in what is called “the buffy coat” once blood has been centrifuged and separated into layers. They play a vital role in blood clotting during an injury and contribute to the repair process. Once activated, they start releasing proteins responsible for healing, called “growth factors,” also known “stem cells.” When platelet rich plasma is administered to a person, these growth factors speed up the body’s normal healing ability. This is accomplished due to the abnormal high concentration of these growth factors being re-introduced to the injured sight. The damaged tissue is replaced by new cells, resulting in improved mobility, function, and reduced pain.
PRP therapy accelerates your own body’s healing capability! One to three injections may be necessary in order to get the best result from this therapy. Typically, a Regenerative Medicine Therapy break of two weeks is recommended between injections. However, It is possible to take several months to complete the healing process. Physical therapy helps accelerate recovery and reduce pain after the injections. Noticeable and beneficial effects are experienced after a few weeks. Patients will typically start feeling better as joints experience increased range of motion, and pain continues to decrease. However, it is possible to take several months to complete the healing process, depending on the severity of your condition. A recent study out of the Hospital for Special Surgery published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine looked at PRP injections for arthritis in 22 patients averaging 55 years of age. The outcomes of the study were fantastic. Participants, by and large, had excellent pain relief that lasted the whole year of follow up. Also, the functional outcomes improved significantly in most of the patients. MRI’s showed that in 75% of patients, no further cartilage degradation could be seen. Typically with arthritis, 4 to 6% of a person’s cartilage degenerates each year. In this study, the platelet rich plasma injection appeared to halt knee degeneration completely in 75% of the patients.
How is PRP Administered?
The 1st step of the procedure consists of drawing blood from the patient. Afterwards, the medical personnel use a centrifuge to separate the PRP Treatment platelets from the blood. The centrifuge process separates the blood into three components. The middle layer contains the heavily concentrated platelets and growth factors, and this is the part used for the procedure. The 2nd step of the procedure consists of injecting the concentrated solution, rich in platelets to the area experiencing pain. Numbing medicine is used to relieve discomfort during the injection procedure. The doctor will simply inject the platelet rich plasma into the affected area, using ultrasound or x-ray guidance if needed. Once the affected ligament, tendon and joint is injected with PRP, it starts healing immediately
What types of Medical Conditions are treated with Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy?
Conditions that involve joint pains and ligament/tendon injuries are often excellent candidates for PRP therapy. Here is a partial list of the conditions PRP helps considerably:
- Golfer’s Elbow
- Tennis Elbow
- Shoulder Tendinitis and Rotator Cuff Injury
- Joint Arthritis – Hip, Spine, Knee, Ankle, SI Joint, Elbow, Wrist
- Headaches – Migraines, Occipital Neuralgia
- Muscle tear
- Soft Tissue Injury – Tendonitis, Meniscus Tears in the Knee, Ligament Sprains.
- Sacroiliac Joint Pain
- Ankle Sprains
- Achilles Tendonitis
- Plantar Fasciitis
Because of their immense effects in treating conditions related to tendon, joint, or ligament damage and pain, platelets are frequently used in treating athletes and quite a few have already used this therapy to speed up the healing processes in their bodies, so they could get back to playing at a very high level. Athletes such as Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Rafael Nadal, Dwight Howard, and Hines Ward, to name a few, have benefited from PRP therapy.
PRP Vs Traditional Treatment Options
Debilitating pain caused by osteoarthritis or tendon injuries are historically treated with cortisone or corticosteroid injections. Disadvantages of corticosteroid injections include weakened tendons, destruction of cartilage, suppression of immune system, thinning of the skin, weight gain, puffiness in the face, cataract formation, thinning of bones (osteoarthritis), and in rare cases can cause avascular necrosis. Due to the toxicity of this type of therapy most patients are told they may not receive cortisone injections less than six weeks apart, and no more than three to four times per year. This treatment method has been proven to temporarily reduce pain, but does not treat the injury itself, nor does it promote healing. It actually causes even worse side effects with prolonged use. On the other hand, PRP therapy safely and effectively accelerates the body’s healing process, and reduces pain without damaging side effects.