Platelet-rich plasma therapy, sometimes called PRP therapy or autologous conditioned plasma (ACP) therapy, attempts to take advantage of the blood’s natural healing properties to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles, or even bone.
Although not considered standard practice, a growing number of people are turning to PRP injections to treat an expanding list of orthopedic conditions, including osteoarthritis. It is most commonly used for knee osteoarthritis, but may be used on other joints as well.
This article describes how experts think PRP works, who might consider PRP injections for osteoarthritis, how to choose a doctor, and the injection procedure. Also discussed is the available research examining whether PRP is an effective treatment for osteoarthritis.
When treating osteoarthritis with platelet-rich plasma, a doctor injects PRP directly into the affected joint. The goal is to:
- Reduce pain
- Improve joint function
- Possibly slow, halt, or even repair damage to cartilage
Platelet-rich plasma is derived from a sample of the patient’s own blood. The therapeutic injections contain plasma with a higher concentration of platelets than is found in normal blood.
There is no universally accepted medical definition for “platelet-rich plasma,” so a PRP injection that one patient receives can be very different than that of another. Variations occur for many reasons, including:
- Patient characteristics. Blood composition (e.g. number of platelets) can differ from patient to patient.
- Processing of blood. How a patient’s blood sample is processed (e.g. centrifuged and filtered) affects the concentrations of platelets and white blood cells in a PRP injection.
- Additives. Doctors may augment platelet-rich plasma with substances that are thought to enhance the PRP’s healing properties.
How PRP production and composition affects the therapy’s effectiveness is not well understood. Until more research is done, patients considering platelet-rich plasma therapy should take time to learn what is known about PRP.
By John J. Wilson, MD, MS
Continue reading the original article from Arthritis Health here.