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Will a PRP Injection Help Your Knee Arthritis?

A meta-analysis of 12 studies found that a PRP injection relieved pain from knee osteoarthritis. It was more effective against pain than hyaluronic acid.
Patient in orthopaedics and Trumatology hospital clinic before injection of PRP Platelet Rich PLasma Human Growth Factors Stem Cells to treat cartilage wastage joint injury and pain.

Millions of people suffer with pain in their knees due to osteoarthritis. They face a dilemma. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen may alleviate pain temporarily, but they can provoke serious side effects. These may include life-threatening reactions such as bleeding ulcers or heart attacks. Consequently, many arthritis patients are seeking alternative treatments for their sore knees. Could a PRP injection make a difference?

Comparing Hyaluronic Acid to PRP Injection:

Some doctors offer injections of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or hyaluronic acid into the knees. The body produces hyaluronic acid naturally  and concentrates it in connective tissue such as cartilage. People attempt to increase levels of this compound in knee cartilage by taking pills or getting it injected directly. To get platelet-rich plasma, health care professionals collect the patient’s blood and spin it in a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets. Then they inject the platelet-rich gel into the joint. How well does a PRP injection work?

The Meta-Analysis:

A systematic review of 12 studies comparing injections of platelet-rich plasma to hyaluronic acid injections found that PRP relieved knee joint pain better (European Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery & Traumatology, online Feb. 14, 2020). This held up after six months and after a year. This analysis did not find other clinical changes, but the reduction in pain was significant.

Preservation of Cartilage:

Another recent study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate changes in cartilage following PRP injection in the knee (Journal of Pain Research, Jan. 10, 2020). Twenty-three middle-aged volunteers had one knee injected while the other served as a control. In addition to significant reductions in pain, the treatment was associated with improvement in the MRI of the knee cartilage.

Learn More:

If you are interested in learning more about other ways to manage joint pain besides taking an NSAID, you may want to read our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis. This is an online resource that is updated periodically.

Some people prefer their information in print on paper rather than online. For them, we also offer a version as a small (100 page) book: Graedons’ Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Alternatives for Arthritis
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This eGuide describes nondrug alternatives for arthritis with the latest scientific studies to document anti-inflammatory activity. This comprehensive online guide (too long to print) adds the science behind ancient healing traditions.

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I had PRP done to treat my lower back for degenerative disc & osteo arthritis a year ago December. The PRP injections were followed by cold laser treatments to speed up the regeneration process. It takes time for those baby cells to regenerate, and you need to be patient, hopeful and cautious. That said, I would do it again without any reservation. It has greatly reduced my pain and has tremendously improved my quality of life. including the ability to travel more and exercise more.

It is true that at this time insurance doesn’t cover the cost but for me it is worth every penny!

I spent over $1100 at Flexogenics in Greensboro on several PRP injections. I had to follow a strict diet for weeks in advance of each procedure. This took lots of time and repeated questions on my part. These injections are used with guided xrays. I have nerve damage in my knee from too much shaving of my articular cartilage in 1993 but did not have bone-on-bone cartilege situation. I expressed my skepticism to the doctor who was pushing this procedure. He kept saying PRP would work Well, it didn’t and so I lost $1100 and had more radiation from the xrays than I would have like. I DO NOT recommend this procedure. It was a nightmare from beginning to end.!

Is this like the stem cell therapy for knees? My friend had it done.She had good luck with her thumbs but only a 50% reduction in her knee. My hubby just had the hyaluronic acid injection.His knee still swells and he had some minor relief. Since our insurance didn’t cover it,it was $1500!! We don’t mind spending the $ if treatments work. Sadly,he doesn’t feel like he got his money’s worth.

Good info. I will ask my doctor about PRP Injection for my knees.

I know people who had PRP but insurance doesn’t pay for it and it didn’t work that well for more than 6 months.

I appreciate this information as I’ve been hoping for studies around PRP for OA. I had zero result from hyaluronic or steroid injex, I think I was too far gone already, so I had one (so far) total replacement out of necessity to be able to do anything and am glad I did that. I have been considering PRP for the other knee, to at least defer replacement if I can, and it sounds like it may be worth the attempt.

Why do doctors take so long to getting around to ordering MRIs? My knee was X-rayed so often, I thought it would light-up in the dark. Sure I had a little bit of arthritis, but what was causing the pain was torn cartilage. It took them YEARS to order an MRI. All they offered was meds that would have damaged my digestive tract. To compound the problem, neither the podiatrists I saw nor the orthopedic doctor understood that shoes affect the knee!!! The wonderful, expensive orthopedic shoes only cause my knee to lock. Now I only wear shoes when I have to leave the house and walk around in my bare feet otherwise. In this case, it is patient, heal thyself.

I had the hyaluronic acid injections in both knees. I had significantly less knee pain for only about 8 months. It sounds like I should try the PRP injections. Thank you for this article.

I could not walk up or down the 3 steps to enter my home without assistance because of severe knee pain. My sports medicine doctor gave my 3 weekly PRP injections to the knee under guided ultrasound. The results were astounding. Pain is gone. Crepitations (crinkling sounds) are almost gone. I can climb a flight of wooden stairs with very minimal discomfort. Stone stairs are still a little difficult. It’s been about 2 years since the injections & during this time I have walked & climbed all over Egypt, Turkey & France. PRP also cured my agonizing plantar fasciitis after I had tried all sorts of treatments without success. Be sure the doctor uses ultrasound during the injections.

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