Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) has been in the news lately because it appears to be a natural solution and an alternative to drugs used to improve a number of medical conditions.
PRP, also known as autologous conditioned plasma (ACP) therapy, uses the body’s own healing properties, found in concentrated platelet cells, to repair muscles, bone, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.
PRP Therapy is also gaining mainstream acceptance to treat a number of orthopedic conditions including osteoarthritis, especially knee osteoarthritis.
How Does PRP Therapy Work?
At your practitioner’s office, your blood is withdrawn, then spun in a centrifuge, separating the platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood, comprised of water, proteins, red and white blood cells, as well as platelets.
The platelets contain growth factors that may help your body initiate a healing response but are also responsible for causing blood to clot. Concentrated plasma contains at least twice the number of platelets found in whole blood.
When the PRP is injected into an area of the body, it can stimulate the healing response along with red blood cells.
Though information is still emerging, PRP has been shown to be useful in the healing process for a wide variety of conditions including:
* Hair regrowth
* Achilles injuries
* Skin rejuvenation
* Musculoskeletal problems
By tapping into the individual’s healing system, health professionals expect to see an improved function with less pain and without using any anti-inflammatory drugs.
The platelets release growth factors to aid in the healing process with no concern for rejection or side effects.
PRP and Arthritis
For arthritis, PRP Therapy seems especially effective if treatment starts early in the progression of the disease.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. About 30 million U.S. adults experience the problem or 23% of the population, according to the Current Reviews of Musculoskeletal Medicine.
With OA, cartilage inside the joint wears down. Pain is the most common symptom. OA can also be found in the joints of the hip, the knee, the last and middle fingers, the neck, and lower back.
According to one published study involving knee osteoarthritis, PRP was shown more effective than hyaluronic acid in increasing the natural lubricating fluid in the joint. Injecting PRP into the affected joint has been found to reduce pain, improve the function of the joint, and it may even repair damage to the cartilage.
Another form of arthritis is inflammatory arthritis, where joints inflame due to an overactive immune system. This is a chronic autoimmune disease. This form of arthritis affects people of all ages unlike osteoarthritis, which results from physical use and is more common as we get older. PRP has anti-inflammatory properties and can accelerate healing for inflammatory arthritis patients.
Studies So Far on PRP and Arthritis
A 2018 review of PRP Therapy concluded PRP should be one of the first options to consider in treating osteoarthritis of the knee, the most common joint affected by OA.
In the treatment of osteoarthritis, one study found PRP was effective in improving function and relieving pain in patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis.
The results were comparable to corticosteroids in patients with late stage OA but without the side effects of the drug. Another study found an injection of LP-PRP (leukocyte-rich, a blood cell part of the immune system) was able to relieve pain better than a single corticosteroid injection.
Side effects of long-term use of corticosteroids, considered more than three months, can include cataracts, glaucoma, peptic ulcer, osteoporosis, and stunted growth, among other side effects.
Who is a Candidate for Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy?
Again, we are in the early stages of determining who might be the ideal candidate, but research suggests the younger patients who are first experiencing arthritis in its early stages may be good candidates for PRP injections.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a good candidate is one who is affected daily by osteoarthritis pain, or for whom other treatments have failed.
For example, maybe physical therapy has not helped nor have anti-inflammatory medications in relieving pain. In the case of steroid injections, if they have not worked or if the patient does not want steroid injections, they too may be a good fit for PRP injections.
If you have tried traditional mainstream medical treatments for arthritis, PRP therapy may deliver the relief you are looking for while minimizing side effects. To learn more about whether or not platelet-rich therapy is right for you, call the Center for Holistic Healthcare in Glastonbury, CT at 860-430-5300.