Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy Can Help Arthritis Patients Avoid Surgery
If you suffer from degenerative joint disease (also called osteoarthritis), you know exactly how painful and limiting this disease can be. This disorder is common and debilitating -- especially when it is present in the hips, knees, and shoulders.
For people experiencing arthritis pain, even the most mundane tasks – driving, walking, climbing stairs – become seemingly impossible feats. In milder cases, exercise, weight management, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory medications can provide relief. In the most severe cases, especially when the affected joints are the hips or knees, total joint replacement surgery may offer the best outcomes. Surgery is not always the ideal solution, though, as it puts patients at risk and requires a recovery period that can be long and painful. If you suffer from debilitating arthritis in the hip or knee joints and have been contemplating surgery, there’s an alternative you should consider before going that route: Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy.
What is PRP Therapy?
Platelets are the smallest components of blood. When a blood vessel is damaged, it triggers a reaction that causes platelets to bind together and create a clot at the site of the damage. The purpose of the clot is to stop the bleeding so the damaged area can heal.
PRP therapy harnesses the power of arthritis patients’ own platelets to promote healing of the damaged joint. The procedure is quick and safe. An orthopedic doctor draws blood from the patient, spins the vial of blood in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the other blood cells, and then precisely injects the platelets into the damaged joint. The process takes about an hour. The doctor prescribes a physical therapy regimen for the patient to follow in the 6 week period after the injection. In about 6 weeks, the patient returns for an evaluation. In some cases the doctor will decide that a second injection is necessary. In successful cases, within 3 months of the injection patients are able to comfortably resume activities that arthritis had previously made too painful.
If you suffer from arthritis in the hip, knee, or shoulder that is so debilitating that you or your doctor have contemplated joint-replacement surgery, PRP is definitely worth discussing with a doctor. PRP therapy has also shown to be effective in treating tendonitis, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), and patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee). PRP is a far more conservative approach that could save you from the pain, anxiety, and difficult recovery time of surgery. Our team at Greater Austin Orthopaedics will take a medical history and determine if you are a candidate for PRP therapy. The orthopedic specialists at our South Austin, Southwest Austin, North Austin, and Lockhart offices are committed to helping arthritis sufferers find relief in the most minimally invasive way for their unique cases.