PRP, also known as Platelet-Rich Plasma is another therapy that may help treat several orthopedic conditions, including osteoarthritis. PRP takes advantage of the blood’s natural healing properties to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles or even bone. Injecting PRP directly into an affected joint can reduce pain, improve joint function, possibly slow, halt or repair damage to cartilage.
Platelet-rich plasma is derived from the patient’s own blood. Plasma is the liquid component of blood that our red and white blood cells float in as they travel in our blood stream. Plasma contains proteins, nutrients, glucose, antibodies, and other components. The therapeutic injections contain plasma with a higher concentration of platelets that is found in normal blood. Platelets are a normal component of blood, just like red and white blood cells. They secrete substances called growth factors and other proteins that stimulate tissue regeneration and promote healing. Platelets also help our blood clot after we get a cut in our skin.
For treating arthritis, PRP has potential to inhibit inflammation and slow down the progression of arthritis, stimulate the formation of new cartilage, and increase production of natural lubricating fluid in the joint.
One of the advantages of PRP is that it is autologous, meaning it comes from the patient’s body, so it is natural and has few risks. While more data are needed, research so far seems to be promising.
Intra-articular injections of platelet-rich plasma to treat osteoarthritis are considered "experimental" by most insurance companies so it may be an out-of-pocket expense.