Can PRP Benefit Knee Injuries?

Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) is a treatment that was originally intended to promote faster wound healing after an injury. Long before the process was utilized for cosmetic reasons, the procedure was a great option for athletes either after an injury or to encourage healing shortly after undergoing surgery. These days, people may opt for PRP to manage a host of conditions, including osteoarthritis (OA) in the knees.


What is PRP?

Although the treatment sounds complicated, PRP is a relatively straightforward solution that leverages the patient’s blood to promote healing and ease discomfort. Human blood is made of red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. Plasma is the liquid portion of blood, and platelets are special blood cells that support clotting during an injury. People that opt for PRP will typically have several tubes of blood drawn. The blood is then processed in a centrifuge to separate the platelet-rich plasma from red blood cells. Although PRP is managed as an outpatient procedure, most individuals undergoing the treatment will receive local anesthesia to numb the injection site before the PRP is injected.

The many uses of plasma

Along with general arthritis, platelet-rich plasma injections have also proven beneficial for people suffering from jumper’s knee. To date, research has been somewhat inconsistent regarding the benefits of PRP for patellar tendonitis. However, initial data shows that individuals who receive injections tend to experience better outcomes when receiving more than 1 injection,

Can PRP help knee OA?

Officially, PRP isn’t formally cleared as a treatment for OA in the knees by government agencies that regulate medications. However, many clinics may still offer injections off-label, and some people find the injections can help with osteoarthritis. That said, because the practice of PRP for OA isn’t officially approved, most formal medical bodies won’t encourage using the treatment in such a manner.

Jumping to PRP treatment

For use in OA patients, the evidence can be viewed as inconclusive regarding whether PRP is better than traditional treatment methods. The same conclusions have been met for studies following people diagnosed with jumper’s knee. Evidence is inconclusive, or the research looks at a small sample of participants. In some cases, people experience pain relief and improved health in the knee, but other studies found no measurable improvements after undergoing injections for jumper’s knee.

Can PRP replace arthroscopy?

The current consensus is that while initial research is promising, PRP injections will only delay rather than completely replace more invasive medical interventions. Also, note that knee arthroscopy is primarily a diagnostic procedure intended to better understand what damage, if any, is present in the knee and is designed to determine the best course of action. Receiving PRP injections could slow progressive injuries in the knee but typically will not completely heal the problem. Individuals concerned about knee injuries and the best course of action should consult a physician for a personalized treatment plan.

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