For years, if you developed arthritis in your knees, your treatment options were primarily anti-inflammatory medications and pain relief creams. Thankfully, arthritis treatments have come a long way in recent years. One treatment that patients are using more and more is PRP injections. Keep reading to learn more about these injections and how they treat osteoarthritis of the knees.
What are PRP injections?
PRP stands for "protein-rich plasma." These injections are formulated from your own blood. Your plasma is isolated and certain proteins it contains are concentrated. Then this plasma is injected into the arthritic tissues of your knee. The proteins in the plasma trigger the body's healing response. This reduces inflammation in the irritated tissues, and some think it will even allow the damaged cartilage in the knee to regenerate to some degree.
Do PRP injections hurt?
There is some pain involved, but it is pretty minor. The blood draw used to obtain your plasma should only feel like a pinprick. If you've had blood drawn before, this is basically the same process. The PRP injections themselves are a little uncomfortable as they are given directly in the knee joint. But once the injections have been given, the pain goes away almost immediately. Some doctors also use a local anesthetic to minimize pain during the injections.
How long will it take to see results?
Every patient heals at their own rate, but you should start to see a reduction in arthritis symptoms within a couple of weeks after your PRP injections. The benefits may keep building for a few more months. If you see an improvement but not as marked of an improvement as you'd like, then your doctor may recommend a second round of PRP injections. Results also tend to be best when you follow up the shots with some physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the knee.
Are there risks involved with PRP shots?
As a general rule, PRP shots have few risks involved. There is some risk of infection, simply because the skin is pierced, but this risk is very low. Since the substance being injected is your own blood plasma, you don't have to worry about your body reacting poorly to it. PRP injections are, overall, a very safe treatment for knee arthritis.
Talk to your doctor about PRP injections for your knee arthritis. They may have some additional insights based on the severity of your own condition and your own overall health.