Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections are a hot topic in many medicine specialties. In orthopedics, many patients are interested in it’s ability to decrease the knee pain associated with osteoarthritis. Interest is especially high for patients who are searching for ways to delay a knee replacement. Many patients are wondering if it can benefit their specific circumstances and help them return to an active lifestyle.
Dr. Jack Farr, OrthoIndy knee preservation and cartilage restoration specialist makes PRP knee injections available to aid in pain relief for his patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis. Here he answers common questions about PRP injections.
What is platelet rich plasma?
Blood is composed of a fluid component called plasma that can be separated from the small, solid components (red cells, white cells and platelets). PRP simply means the prepared plasma has more platelets per volume than the patient’s own whole blood. The concentration of platelets can be two to ten times greater (or richer) than the patient’s blood and thus more factors.
During tissue injury the platelets aid in clotting blood and as the “first responders” to injury, they contain over 1,500 proteins including anti-inflammatory and growth factors. These factors aid in initiating the healing response at a site of injury and when used as a knee injection can improve the balance of the inflamed knee environment.
What are PRP injections?
To prepare PRP injections, blood is drawn from the patient. The platelets are separated from other blood cells and are concentrated by spinning at high speeds in a centrifuge. The concentrated platelets and the plasma portion are then ready for injection.
There are many ways to prepare PRP. Dr. Farr uses a type of PRP called Autologous Conditioned Plasma®. This type of PRP has been shown in studies to diminish symptoms of knee arthritis and is administered in the same manner as other knee injections with local skin numbing
What are the benefits? Are there unfavorable reactions?
- Potential reduced knee pain without surgery
- Potential improved joint function
- Side effects to PRP injections are very limited as the patient is using products from their own blood, which they should not unfavorably react
Am I a candidate for PRP injections?
- Osteoarthritis pain in the knee, which affects your daily activity
- Some joint space remains (not bone on bone)
- The pain is more from the inflamed soft tissues than bone pain
- Other conservative treatment such a physical therapy, bracing, anti-inflammatory medications corticosteroid injections have failed
What happens after my injection?
You may return to usual activity, but certainly do not “over do it”.
Is it covered by my insurance?
Most insurance programs, Medicare and Medicaid label PRP injections as “experimental or investigational” and do not pay for these treatments. Consult with your Health Savings Account (HSA) adviser, as prescribed medical treatments may be allowed for payments from your HSA account.
Are there other injection options?
Yes, if PRP injections are not the best option for you, OrthoIndy also offers variants of “stem cell-like” injection options for knee pain. Talk with your OrthoIndy specialist and learn the best option for your knee pain treatment.
To make an appointment with Dr. Farr please call 317.884.5163 or learn more about cartilage restoration at OrthoIndy.