Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a minimally-invasive procedure that is used to procure the patient's own plasma, which is then injected into the targeted site. PRP can be a safer alternative to other treatments for knee damage or arthritis and may give people an opportunity to reduce pain and increase function without additional risks.

Low Reaction Risk

Since PRP is done by acquiring your own blood and separating the platelets from other blood products, there are few risks of a reaction or side effects. Since the substance is injected into the knee, there is always a slight risk of infection, much like other injections. A common treatment for knee injuries and arthritis is to use steroid injections. These injections may be helpful, but after a while, your body becomes desensitized to them. With continued use, steroid injections can have major side effects, such as bone necrosis and osteoporosis, which can lead to worse problems with your knee.

Targeted Therapy

Generally, most of the treatments to help reduce pain and improve functionality other than steroid injections are systemic. Although systemic treatments, such as NSAIDs may be helpful, they cannot be safely used long-term and come with many risks. NSAIDs are the most popular pain management option for knee injuries and arthritis because of their anti-inflammatory effect. Since PRP is injected directly into the knee, it works at that site and does not affect the gastrointestinal system and the kidneys. These are the major risks associated with NSAIDs. Gastrointestinal bleeding is a serious risk and long-term use of NSAIDs can damage the kidneys. Acetaminophen is another pain-reduction option. It is generally less effective than NSAIDs but has a safer side effect profile. Even acetaminophen can carry the risk of liver damage with continued use.

Delaying Surgery

One of the objectives of PRP is delaying knee surgery or preventing the need for it entirely. Depending on the exact problem with the knee, arthroscopic surgery might be used. Arthroscopic surgery is a form of minimally-invasive surgery that can be used to clean up the knee joint by removing torn tissue. If there is damage to the ligaments in the knee, arthroscopic surgery might be used to repair the damage. Depending on the extent of ligament damage, it might be necessary to remove tissue elsewhere in the leg to create a new ligament.

In the most extreme cases, a partial or total knee replacement might be necessary. Every surgery, even minimally-invasive ones, carries risks. The risk of infection and risks associated with any anesthesia used are always present. There is also the risk the surgery may not be effective. The use of PRP might help heal knee damage in cases of minor to moderate damage, and in severe instances of damage, the procedure might help delay a knee replacement until it is absolutely necessary.

PRP is an excellent alternative treatment for various knee ailments. The use of PRP can be safer and less invasive than alternative approaches like conservative treatments or major surgery. For more information on PRP injections, contact a local medical center.