Imagine being able to walk along the beach with your spouse, enjoying the sound of the crashing waves and the radiant sunset. The peace of comfort and enjoying your days with your loved ones is hard to put a price tag on. Unfortunately, after just a short stroll down a sandy beach, knee arthritis can cause pain, swelling, and days of discomfort afterwards.
This is a sad but true reality for many of my patients. There are a variety of treatments that we recommend for managing knee arthritis. I have another blog post where I provided an overview of these different options. Today I want to share with you a new treatment option we have available at Davis Orthopedics in case the other options either don’t work or are simply not appealing.
This treatment is a more natural way of approaching the problem, using your own body’s defense and recovery systems to help keep you active and moving. The treatment is known as Platelet Rich Plasma. This fits in the same category as other treatments we consider Biological Medicine, using natural processes and substances to fight disease and injury, instead of relying on pharmaceuticals and surgery. The benefit of this approach is that it reduces the side effects and complications sometimes seen with more traditional medical therapies.
Platelet Rich Plasma consists of the following steps, all performed in the office with nothing more than simple local anesthesia.
- A sample of blood is drawn from the patient, just like when lab tests are performed or blood is donated. This is usually taken from the arm, near the elbow and takes a minute or two.
- The sample of blood is mixed with a substance to prevent it from clotting. The clotting process uses up many of the substances we are trying to obtain, so clotting has to be prevented. This is the only chemical added to the patient’s own blood.
- The patient’s blood is placed in a specially designed tube and centrifuge. As the centrifuge spins the blood, the different components of the blood separate so the desired portion can be isolated. The top layer, mostly liquid is known as plasma.
- The platelet layer of the plasma is then drawn out of the sample into a separate syringe.
- This platelet-rich plasma is then injected back into the patient at the site on injury or disease.
Platelet rich plasma is based on the understanding that the platelets play an important role in starting the healing process. Whether you suffer a simple cut, a sprained ankle, fracture, or degenerative condition such as arthritis, the platelets help get the recovery process started. By concentrating the platelets and then delivering them to the site of the needed repair, we can jump-start the body’s natural healing processes.
Platelet Rich Plasma is not a new treatment. It has been used for several years now but is still considered investigational. Research is trying to determine the best way to apply this treatment and there are still many unanswered questions. Early evidence shows some benefit in managing knee arthritis with some patients reporting less pain, less swelling, better motion, and improved function. It is not going to cure arthritis in the knee, but may improve symptoms enough to make patients feel better, function better, and postpone knee replacement surgery. If would like more information on Platelet Rich Plasma for knee arthritis, contact us at Davis Orthopedics and we will help you figure out if this treatment is right for you.