Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a new type of therapy that accelerates healing and pain reduction using the body’s own cells. It is used in the treatment of osteoarthritis in the knee, as well as to treat a number of other conditions including:
- Achilles tendon injuries
- Foot and ankle problems, including sprains
- Tennis elbow (inflammation in the tendons on the outside of the elbow)
- Knee problems (including ACL injuries)
- Rotator cuff injuries
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy and Osteoarthritis in the Knee
If you have osteoarthritis in your knee and have not been able to manage your symptoms with conventional methods such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs or cortisone injections, platelet-rich plasma therapy may be able to provide relief.
If your doctor orders this therapy for you, here is what will happen:
- You will need to stop taking anti-inflammatory medications (Ibuprofen, for example) a few weeks before treatment.
- At your appointment, a sample of your blood will be drawn.
- The blood is then spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the other components.
- At the same appointment, the doctor will inject the platelets into your knee using ultrasound imaging to pinpoint the exact location of the injury.
- The platelets immediately begin accelerating healing. However, you may not feel results right away. In fact, you may have more pain at the injection site initially. This is normal.
- Multiple treatments may be required to achieve full recovery.
To increase the benefit of the treatment, in the first few weeks following the injection you should:
- Avoid strenuous exercise, especially activities that stress your knee joint
- Refrain from using anti-inflammatory medications (your doctor can tell you about other pain relief options)
- Wear a splint to stabilize the joint and use crutches in some cases
- Apply cold compresses to the knee to reduce swelling and pain. It may be helpful to alternate cold and hot packs.
- Elevate the knee at night
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a treatment that is showing great promise and providing relief for many patients. Your doctor can talk with you about whether it is a good option for your specific condition.