The benefits of PRP therapy don't just stop at your face... Using the treatment can also help elsewhere in the body
2 February 2020| Last updated on 4 February 2020
Suffer from knee pain? Treatments needn't be invasive, costly or time-consuming...
When it comes to managing knee pain caused by osteoarthritis, traditional methods have included anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, cortisone injections, and surgery. But over the past decade, researches have examined a new way to treat pain and degeneration in the knee.
First made popular by Kim Kardashian, PRP injections - dubbed the 'Vampire Facial' - rapidly became the go-to facial treatment. Yet the benefits of PRP are so much more than collagen production and facial rejuvenation. In fact, platelet-rich plasma can be used to manage osteoarthritis of the knee.
How does PRP work for osteoarthritis?
Growth factors are found in platelets in your blood. PRP operates under the theory that injecting growth factors from the blood into an injured area will cause new tissues to form. This helps to reduce inflammation in the tissue. When growth factors interact with local cells, they signal them to initiate cell division and migration, which helps to promote tissue formation.
Doctors at the world's leading medical universities and hospitals are showing that PRP can regenerate damaged knee cartilage and meniscus in patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis, and PRP can also enhance healing after knee ligament reconstruction.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a simple, low-cost and minimally invasive intervention, which is feasible to deliver in primary care to treat degenerative lesions of articular cartilage of the knee.
This therapy appears to have minimal associated adverse events and may have beneficial effects in terms of pain, health utility, patient satisfaction, and goal-orientated outcomes.
Who is a good candidate for this treatment?
You may be a good candidate for PRP if your symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee are not manageable through conventional methods such as anti-inflammatories, cortisone injections, and physical therapy. Alternatively, there's also the use of stem cell injections for knee pain.
How do PRP injections work?
As part of the procedure, your doctor will draw blood from your arm. Then, they'll put the blood sample into a centrifuge for 15 minutes. The centrifuge will separate your blood into:
- red blood cells
- white blood cells
Your doctor will use that sample to extract PRP. They will numb your knee and inject PRP into the affected area, then you'll rest for at least 15 minutes before being discharged. In total, the procedure will take about one hour.
What happens after the procedure?
After the procedure, it is advisable that you ice your knee every 2 to 3 hours for 20 minutes each time. Continue this for three days. You may also need to take pain medication if you have significant pain. You’ll want to limit your physical activity and avoid activities that put weight on your knee. Your doctor may recommend using crutches for a few days to keep weight off of your knee.
What other treatment options are available?
There are several other methods orthopedists recommend to manage pain associated with osteoarthritis. Most of these methods can be used with PRP.
How to decrease osteoarthritis pain
- Apply ice and heat to the knee.
- Work with a physical therapist to create a home exercise program. Follow your home exercise program as recommended.
- Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories.
- Consider using medical devices such as canes, braces, and shock-absorbing shoes.
- Apply ointments prescribed by your doctor.
- Talk to your doctor about corticosteroid (cortisone) injections.
- In the most severe cases or ones with minimal improvement of symptoms, consider surgery.
PRP injections can be repeated so long as they're beneficial. As with any injections done, these are done to help postpone surgery for as long as possible. As long as the injections are providing relief, they can be continued without any detriment to the knee or other parts of the body.
One of the concerns with steroid injections is that repeated injections can actually damage the cartilage, whereas PRP injections do not have that negative side effect observed with steroid injections.