Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a concentrated solution of platelets (typically up to five times higher) and various blood growth factors in a small volume of plasma-derived from the patient’s blood. Although the main role of platelet is in maintaining hemostasis (blood clotting), there is emerging evidence to suggest that PRP has a regenerative effect on body tissues.
Clinical Use in Knee Disorders
Various medical and orthopedic conditions including knee pain, patellar tendinopathy, articular cartilage lesions, and knee osteoarthritis have been treated by PRP injections with success.
PRP injection into the knee joint provides pain relief, improves joint movements as well as physical function in osteoarthritis of the knee. This is achieved due to various actions of PRP such as analgesic, anti-inflammatory, immune-modulatory, anti-oxidative, chondroprotective and anabolic-trophic effects.
Comparison to other treatment alternatives
PRP therapy is a minimally invasive treatment modality and is equally effective and safe when compared to other treatment modalities like intra-articular steroid injection or hyaluronic acid injection.
Pros and Cons
PRP is a blood product derived from the patient’s own body, so there is no risk of immune reactions and other diseases. Since the injection is provided directly into the joint, there is negligible systemic toxicity or side effects. Currently, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines has confirmed PRP injections for knee osteoarthritis has no major safety concerns. There is little possibility of a local anesthesia reaction, infection, and bleeding but this is the same as any other injection procedure.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a relatively simple, minimally invasive, and low-cost procedure that is feasible to perform even in orthopedic urgent care or outpatient care. It has been successfully used to treat degenerative conditions of the articular cartilage of the knee with minimal adverse events.