Knee osteoarthritis (KOA) is a painful and debilitating condition affecting a large number of patients worldwide. KOA is characterized by a progressive loss of articular cartilage and inflammation. Due to the destructive nature of osteoarthritis and its effects on patients, research on platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is increasing.
In this article, we review the latest research and clinical trials on PRP's effectiveness in KOA.
PRP contains concentrated platelets rich in a complement of growth factors and anti-inflammatory cytokines that are responsible for healing. This complement induces:
PRP is also known to have a modulating effect on pro-inflammatory mediators and catabolic enzymes. These qualities have made PRP a promising therapeutic option for osteoarthritis.
More and more studies are confirming that PRP IA (intra-articular) injections are more effective and safer than NSAIDs due to their ability to actually regenerate tissue in damaged structures. PRP IA injections are a good option for patients who haven't responded to conservative treatment, but don't require surgery.
There are several questions regarding PRP administration that have been studied in animal models.
These animal models can help researchers and physicians with clinical decisions in their use of PRP.
Animal models do not always translate into routine clinical practice. Fortunately, researchers are gaining more understanding of the molecular functions of PRP that affect KOA treatment outcomes in patients.
One study compared the effects of PRP to hyaluronic acid (HA) in patients with mild to moderate OA. Synovial fluid (SF) from each patient was analyzed for pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory markers. Patients in the PRP group reported greater improvements in their pain and saw significant decreases in two pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β and TNF-α) compared to the HA group.4
Some researchers oppose the use of leukocyte-pure PRP in KOA treatment. They argue that some leukocytes release both pro- and anti-inflammatory molecules, and that the combination of these molecules and activated platelets enhances regenerative qualities.5
Another issue regarding PRP treatment in OA is whether to use PRP alone or in combination with HA. One study compared the effectiveness of a PRP and HA combination to PRP alone and HA alone for the treatment of patients with mild to moderate KOA.6 At 24 months, the results showed that the PRP and HA combination was more effective than either treatment alone at inhibiting synovial inflammation. Patients receiving the combination also reported improved pain and function and reduced adverse reactions.
Another study suggested that PRP injections in the intra-articular (IA) space may not be enough for geriatric patients with KOA. In this study, patients were divided into two treatment groups - PRP IA injection (Group 1) and simultaneous PRP IA and PRP pes anserinus injections (Group 2). Both groups revealed positive changes, including an increase in anti-aging proteins. However, only Group 2 showed improvements in knee function and inflammation markers. 7
Clearly, PRP is a safe and effective treatment for knee osteoarthritis. Numerous studies show that PRP helps control pain, reduce inflammation, protect cartilage, and restore function of the knee.
A growing body of evidence shows that PRP therapy offers a simple and minimally-invasive technique to restore the structure and function of the knees.
Dr. PRP offers complete, affordable systems to help you incorporate PRP into your practice. Our patented design ensures consistent results for your patients and your practice. View Dr. PRP kits and PRP centrifuges at our online store.
Got questions? We're happy to answer them. Contact us today at 844-377-7787 (DR-PRP-US).