Science and medicine have helped us battle several ailments through infinite advancements and inventions. One such treatment discussed today is using Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) procedures. PRP procedures are gaining immense popularity in healthcare by facilitating a healing process for multiple injuries, from knee and spine injuries to hair loss.
Moreover, PRP injection reviews are extremely positive as the patient’s blood cells are injected to accelerate the healing of wounds of trauma and joint injuries.
An Overview of the PRP Injections
Platelet-rich Plasma has two components—platelets (blood cells responsible for body regeneration) and plasma (the liquid constituent of the blood). As platelets possess excellent clotting abilities and promote cell proliferation, PRP injections utilize blood with a high platelet count to heal and treat the injured area.
The blood is first spun in a centrifuge, where its constituents are separated from the plasma, and platelets are concentrated. The blood sample is taken from the injured patient while the PRP treatment is executed by injecting the prepared solution into the target area, i.e., a wounded knee or tendon. Specific proteins or hormones, known as growth factors, are concentrated in the target area to speed up the healing process.
After applying the injection, the patients experience pain, swelling, and soreness for a few weeks. Generally, the side effects of PRP treatments are minimal, with low risks. The doctor advises the patients to avoid activities that can strain or infect the treated area. Moreover, consumption of NSAIDs for pain alleviation is restricted as medication such as Ibuprofen interferes with the PRP treatment.
Although several trials have found PRP injections or treatment ineffective, substantial studies have shown that the injection expedites the healing process, lessens the pain, and helps patients with osteoarthritis or tendon injuries to return to their physical activities.
Like any other medical treatment, PRP injections have their own set of pros and cons. These can affect the decisions of patients considering undergoing knee PRP treatment.
Pros of Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections
PRP injections have multiple benefits for osteoarthritis patients who opt for the said treatment for knee injuries. These benefits are as follows:
- A Reliable Non-Surgical Alternative
PRP injections are fruitful and safe for patients without surgery. The treatment can have positive patient outcomes when paired with other non-surgical lifestyle changes such as physical therapy, bracing, and weight loss.
With the high severity of osteoarthritis, PRP injections can act as an agent to reduce knee injury symptoms and postpone the urgency of knee-replacement surgery.
- A Low-Risk Alternative for Osteoarthritis Treatments
There are no reliable treatment options for osteoarthritis as the knee cartilages have poor regeneration capabilities. In such cases, PRP injections are the most secure and less-risky among the available options of cortisone injections, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID), and joint replacement surgeries.
Any treatment contrary to PRP holds certain risks and side effects, including lengthy rehabilitation, weakening of healthy cartilage, and stomach or heart problems from medications. They might reduce pain, but their healing effects are negligible in the long term.
Additionally, PRP is an autologous component obtained from the patient’s body, indicating its natural and, thus, low-risk functionality. Nonetheless, PRP injections are an effective treatment plan, but not an ultimate cure for lingering medical problems.
- Reduced Healing Time
Compared to other treatment options for osteoarthritis or other injuries, PRP injections offer rapid healing and tissue regeneration. Patients can return to their daily activities considerably fast after PRP injections.
- Non-Scarring Treatment
Unlike surgical treatment options, PRP injections do not leave any scars. No cuts are made as the entire procedure is done through needles.
- A Versatile Treatment Option
PRP injections are a multifaceted and versatile medical treatment commonly used to treat sports trauma injuries, chronic tendonitis, osteoarthritis, skin rejuvenation, hair loss, and post-surgical healing.
Cons of Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections
Several disadvantages emerged while testing the efficacy of PRP injections for knee and other injuries. Scientists cannot completely understand or justify the impact of these injections and how the regeneration of cells is executed through the solution.
There are multiple questions that experts are required to answer accurately regarding the PRP procedure:
- Timeline of the treatment: Whether the PRP injections must be used at an early stage of osteoarthritis or as a last resort.
- How much of the PRP solutions should be injected? Since the dose content is uncertain, the possibility of PRP injections working is considered vague.
- Do additives like thrombin increase the potency of the PRP injections?
- What are the most favorable concentrations of platelets and white blood cells (WBCs) in PRP?
- Are there any rehabilitation protocols to be implemented after the application of the injection?
- What should be the frequency of PRP injections, and when should they be scheduled?
These questions highlight one of the greatest cons of PSP injections—lack of scientific evidence and backing. Other than these disadvantages, here are some of the minor cons that patients should consider before scheduling an appointment for PRP injections:
- PRP Injections’ Cost
Although the cost of PRP injections depends on the region, the average cost falls between $750 and $10,000, which is highly expensive if you require more than one injection.
- Covered by Limited Insurance Companies
The PRP treatment has not been approved by the FDA, which limits the number of companies that cover the cost of the injections under insurance, making the treatment inaccessible for some people.
- Requires Multiple Clinic Visits
For the PRP therapy to be executed, the patient has to visit the doctor’s clinic several times for blood samples and other formalities.
- Variability in Treatment Results
PRP injections currently do not have a standardized protocol, leading to diverse treatment outcomes.
- Supplemental Nature of the Treatment
As PRP does not completely demolish the issue, it acts as a supplemental treatment. Other suitable treatments must accompany PRP injections to eradicate the problem from its roots and provide long-term relief.
What Affects the Effectiveness of PRP Injections?
There have been several mixed results on the effectiveness of PRP injections. Nonetheless, for most cases of knee injuries, certain factors determine the outcome of the injections, apart from the procedure itself.
- Type of Injury—chronic or acute
- Overall health and immunity of the patient
- The target area that requires medical attention
Medical issues such as chronic tendonitis, hip and knee osteoarthritis, and other joint ailments are indeed colossally painful and inconvenient. To acquire ease in such cases, many patients choose PRP procedures. However, the pros and cons of the treatment do leave us perplexed and hesitant.
Do you require more information on PRP injections or are you keen on discussing the procedure for your osteoarthritis problem? In that case, Nortex Spine and Joint Institute doctors are here to help. You can find out whether the PRP procedure benefits your problem and schedule an appointment with us. Get relief from all kinds of joint pains through non-surgical alternatives today!