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Knee Arthritis and Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections

July 11, 2011

If you dread walking across a parking lot or climbing stairs because of the pain you’ll suffer in your knees, then you are probably an arthritis sufferer.

And you want relief. Maybe you’re at the end of your rope or just now starting to learn more about your condition and how to repair it.

Arthritis in the knee is usually a result of high-impact sports and repetitive actions like gymnastics or running. Up until now the way to treat arthritis in the knee involved nonsurgical therapies, drugs and surgery.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections where a patient’s blood is spun into a concentrated plasma are proving to be effective treatments (after all other methods have been tried in some circumstances), which doesn’t involve surgery and a protracted recovery time.

Let’s review these options before we talk about PRP therapy.

Nonsurgical Treatment

If you have osteoarthritis of the knee, you can take advantage of a wide range of treatment nonsurgical options.

●     Lifestyle modification like losing weight and minimizing the high-impact activities that cause you pain in your knees.

●     Exercise improves your strength, flexibility and range of motion.

●     Supportive devices like knee braces, canes and cushioned shoes.

Different people respond to different modifications so experiment until you find one that works for you.

Drug Treatments

Several types of drugs can be used in treating arthritis of the knee.

●     Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory agents that can be injected into the joint.

●     Viscosupplementation is where the quality of the joint is improved by injecting it with substances.

●     Gold salt injection can sometimes be use to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Again, not every patient will respond the same to these treatments. Not all people to medications in the same way. Your orthopaedic surgeon can provide a specific regiment of drug treatments.

Surgical Options

Surgery on your arthritic knee should be a last-resort option–after you’ve exhausted all other options. Here are a few surgical treatments:

●     Arthroscopic surgery uses fiber optics so the surgeon can see inside the joint and clean any debris or restore damage cartilage.

●     An osteotomy cuts the thigh or shin bone to improve the alignment of the knee joint.

●     Knee arthroplasty–whether total or partial–replaces the knee joint cartilage with metal and plastic.

●     Cartilage grafting is possible for knees where limited cartilage loss from trauma or arthritis.

Platelet-Rich Plasma Option

A PRP study published in late 2009 from the Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute in Bologna, Italy, found platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injected in knees with degenerative arthritis can improve knee function.

The results showed consistent improvement up to 6 months after PRP therapy, which makes it a promising, nonsurgical treatment. But PRP therapy is not a sports medicine silver bullet. There can be side effects, and some significant side effects. Here are the most common.

To learn more about PRP treatments for your arthritic knee give us a call or visit our office in St. Louis. We look forward to hearing from you.

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