Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections
Using your own blood to treat joint pain and osteoarthritis
What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)?
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment is using patient’s blood platelets to stimulate healing in injured or degenerative tissue.
The Science Behind Platelet Cells
Blood platelet cells contain granules rich in bioactive growth factors (GFs), proteins and cytokines. These together with other extracellular plasma proteins and cytokines, initiate and regulate tissue repair. This is a complex process involving multiple cells and cell signaling some of the important GFs include platelet-derived GFs, vascular endothelial GFs, transforming GFs, fibroblast GFs, epidermal GFs, hepatocyte GFs and insulin-like GFs.
When the skin sustains a bleeding cut, platelets release clotting factors to stop the bleeding while at the same time releasing GFs to repair the injured tissues. GFs stimulate healing whether it be making new capillaries, attracting mesenchymal stem cells to the injured area, repairing nerves or forming collagen to repair muscle, tendon, skin and chondral tissue.
How can PRP injections help me?
PRP injections can restore function by enabling the body to repair, replace and regenerate damaged ageing or diseased cells and tissues. They are used to treat the following conditions:
- Tendon Injury
- Bone tissue repair
- Soft tissue augmentation
How can they benefit me?
In general, you can expect:
- Pain reduction
- Increase in functional capacity
- Improvement in joint mobility
- May postpone or avoid surgery
Is it safe?
Because PRP therapy uses autologous blood products the immune system does not consider the injected platelet cells and plasma to be foreign and there is no allergic reaction. As the platelet cells are very small, flare-up from the injection is usually mild but is more common when injecting denser tissues such as tendons rather than the more spacious joints.
PRP v Hyaluronic Acid Injections (Synvisc)
Randomised clinical studies have shown that PRP has greater benefit in alleviating symptoms and function compared with hyaluronic acid injections in both the long and short term. In a recent clinical trial (Kilincoglu et al 2015) patients in the early stages of knee osteoarthritis were given 3 PRP injections one week apart and another group of patients were given 3 HA injections one week apart. On evaluation at 3 and 6 months post-treatment, the PRP group had a statistically significant difference in their pain scores than the HA group. At 6 months, the PRP group had obtained a 70% mean improvement in their pre-treatment pain score, compared to 44% improvement with those who had the HA injections. In another recent trial (Raeissadet et al 2015) patients with knee osteoarthritis were treated and assessed after a one year period. Similarly, those that were given PRP injections experienced reduced symptoms than those given HA after 12 months.