Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common condition as a person ages, especially in individuals with previous knee injuries. Affecting over 1.5 million Australians, the disease ranges in severity from early disease causing only occasional pain and soreness, to severe disease, with persistent joint pain and stiffness – which can have a significant effect on a patient’s quality of life and physical activities. Treatment of knee osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms is complex and current recommendations for mild to moderate OA include: weight reduction, lifestyle changes, medications, physiotherapy, bracing and muscle strengthening programs. For patients who continue to have pain despite these early treatment options, intra-articular Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections may be recommended to relieve pain and/or to delay knee replacement surgery.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a relatively new treatment for knee OA symptoms that has been proven to reduce pain and improve the function of osteoarthritic joints. Significant research in the use of PRP for mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis has indicated that PRP is superior to other knee injection options such as hyaluronic acid (eg: Synvisc) and corticosteroids. PRP is usually recommended to help manage OA symptoms and slow progression to more advanced OA.
PRP is an extract of your own blood that contains a high concentration of platelets, growth factors, and bio-active proteins essential for tissue regeneration and healing. How does PRP work? PRP works by stimulating the body’s natural healing mechanisms. When tissue is injured, the body responds by sending specific ‘super healer’ cell types to the site of injury to start the repair process. These ‘super healers’ are platelets and once they are injected will release growth factors, which act as ‘chemical controllers’ for cellular repair. The exact mechanism of how PRP improves OA symptoms is not completely known, but researchers have observed the positive effect of platelet-released growth factors and bioactive proteins on the joint tissues. Three main actions have been observed – stimulation of cellular repair, increase in anti-inflammatory processes and decrease in pro-inflammatory proteins. Collectively these actions improve overall joint biology, leading to a reduction in OA symptoms.
PRP is a simple procedure, performed as an outpatient with the whole procedure lasting 30 minutes. A blood sample is collected (similar to a regular blood test) and placed into a special, sterile PRP device. After centrifugation, over 90% of the platelets are precisely concentrated into a small volume of plasma, which is then collected for injection into the affected joint.
Alocuro’s TGA approved technology collects a ‘pure’ type of PRP, with a high platelet concentration and reduced white blood cells, which has been shown by research studies to provide the best clinical outcomes. By comparison, many PRP providers are using low platelet concentration or high white blood cell PRP that may contribute to variable patient results.
The PRP’s growth factors improve tissue regeneration by stimulating the body’s normal healing response to an injury. However as the growth factors are highly concentrated, the healing response is exaggerated, which can create a temporary ‘flare up’ of symptoms for 2-3 days.
Published studies have demonstrated 85% or more of patients who receive knee joint PRP gained a 50-80% reduction in their symptoms for 6-12 months. Some patients notice improvements for up to 18 months. Annual repetition of the PRP treatment can prolong this benefit. The PRP injection is not a “quick fix” and it usually takes up to 6 weeks for noticeable improvement.
PRP is not appropriate for all painful joints, and patient suitability for PRP needs to be assessed by the treating doctor. Patients with symptomatic early to moderate OA will usually require two injections, spaced four weeks apart. More advanced OA will usually need three injections. It is important that patients understand that PRP is not a 100% guaranteed solution to resolve all osteoarthritis symptoms. PRP achieves the best outcomes when used in combination with weight loss, structured exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
The risks of side effects and complications of PRP injections are low, as the patient is receiving an injection of a component of their own blood, within 10 minutes of the blood sample being collected. Because the platelets are from the patient’s own blood, there is very little risk of rejection or allergic reaction. The procedure is carefully performed to minimize infection risk and is relatively painless for most patients. Reduced activity is suggested for the remainder of the day, with a return to normal activity over the next 2 days.
The Alocuro PRP system used at Perth Medical Imaging, meets all TGA guidelines for PRP therapy with the patented, sterile medical devices providing the latest PRP technology available within Australia. Doctors – (GP and medical specialists) perform the joint injection procedure.
When someone has an injury from sports or another activity, PRP can aid in the healing process. PRP can shorten healing times in these patients for non-surgical injuries like tennis elbow or knee tendonitis. People who want to avoid surgery and have tendon or soft tissue injuries can potentially benefit from PRP injection.
You can suffer some discomfort and bruising at the injection site following the treatment. Compared to other injectable treatments like corticosteroids, the chance of an allergic reaction is far lower with PRP injections because they are formed of your own cells and plasma.
PRP injections can be beneficial for up to nine months, based upon clinical trials. PRP injections last for a specific period of time, but this varies from person to person. Additionally, overall results differ from circumstance to situation.
PRP requires payment from the patient. If there is a refund, we can help you by filing your Medicare claim electronically so that money is automatically transferred to the bank account you specify.