An Overview on PRP Knee Injections
Knee injuries affect millions of Americans each year. In fact, it is one of the main reasons patients in the Chicago, Westchester, Oak Brook and Hinsdale, Illinois communities visit a knee specialist such as Dr. Nikhil Verma. Dr. Verma offers platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections in the knee, sometimes referred to as an autologous blood injection in the knee, for patients suffering from osteoarthritis, acute muscle injuries and chronic tendon and ligament injuries. PRP knee injections use the body’s natural restorative abilities to accelerate the healing process after an injury so patients can return to the activities they enjoy without undergoing surgery.
The knee is the largest and most complex joint in the human body, and is placed under a great deal of daily stress during normal, work and athletic activities. The joint is made-up of four main bones- the femur (thighbone), the tibia (shinbone), the fibula (the smaller bone that runs alongside the tibia) and the patella (kneecap). A complex system of ligaments, tendon and cartilage work in unison to allow the knee to function and move. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL) are the four main ligaments in the knee that connect the bones and provide stability to the joint. Tendons connect the bones in the knee to the leg muscles that move the joint. To absorb impact in the knee joint when placed under stress, there are two c-shaped pieces of cartilage called the medial and lateral menisci, commonly known as meniscus.
What is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy?
Human blood is composed of four main components- red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and platelets. Over the years, it has been proven platelets naturally move toward an injured area to help treat the wounded area. Within the last twenty years, researchers have discovered that when activated, platelets release healing proteins called growth factors. These growth factors are capable of stimulating cellular growth and accelerating healing.
Platelet rich plasma therapy, sometimes referred to as autologous blood therapy, has been used for many years in operating rooms for trauma wound healing and bone formation stimulation in spinal fusion surgery. Today, orthopedic specialists are using PRP knee injections to help accelerate healing of chronic tendon injuries and acute ligament and muscle injuries.
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Can PRP Injections Help You?
There are two ways to determine if you are a candidate for this procedure:
You can provide current X-rays and/or MRIs for a clinical case review ($250).
You can schedule an office consultation that should be covered by your insurance.
What is the Process of an Autologous Blood Injection in the Knee?
To begin treatment of an autologous blood injection in the knee, Dr. Verma will remove a small sample of blood from the patient’s arm, typically 30 milliliters. The blood is then placed in a special machine known as a centrifuge that spins the blood at high speeds and separates the four main blood components. Once the four components are separated, the platelet rich plasma is removed. The plasma is then injected back into the injured area to accelerating healing.
What Conditions can a PRP Knee Injection Treat?
Dr. Verma commonly recommends a PRP knee injection for these common knee conditions:
PRP for Knee Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis that affects the knee, commonly seen in patients over the age of 50 years. Daily impact and athletic activities cause wear and tear to articular cartilage in the joint, leading to pain, stiffness and swelling.
Recent research from the Hospital of Special Surgery (HSS) found that PRP knee injections improved pain and function in up to 73% of patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis and appeared to delay the progression of osteoarthritis.
PRP for Knee Deterioration Injuries
An injury to the ligaments and menisci in the knee can be very painful and debilitating, and lead to deterioration of cartilage in the knee joint. A ligament and meniscus injury can occur through athletic training, sports competition or from everyday falls and accidents. An autologous blood injection in the knee is designed to help ligament and cartilage injuries heal more rapidly without the need of surgery.
Another common knee injury treated by PRP knee injections is tendon injuries. One of the most common knee tendon injuries is a patellar tendon injury. The patellar tendon attaches the bottom of the kneecap (patella) to the top of the shinbone (tibia). The patella attaches to the quadriceps muscles by the quadriceps tendon. Working together, the quadriceps muscles, quadriceps tendon and patellar tendon straighten the knee. Common conditions associated with the patellar tendon are patellar tendinitis, patellar femoral syndrome, and chondromalacia patella and patellar instability.
PRP for Bone on Bone Knees
Articular cartilage is the tough, white, smooth tissue that covers the ends of each bone throughout the human body. In the knees, cartilage lesions or tears are very common. If the lesions go all the way through to the bone it is called a full-thickness lesion. PRP for bone on bone knees can provide nutrients and oxygen needed to help slowdowl articular cartilage damage and alleviate the associated symptoms.
PRP Non-Surgical Treatment Alternative
Many knee injuries and conditions are treated with non-surgical measures at the beginning of treatment. Conservative measures include rest, ice, medications, activity modifications and physical therapy. When non-surgical measures no longer alleviate symptoms, patients are often recommended surgery to alleviate symptoms and improve function. With PRP knee injections, patients may be able to prolong or completely eliminate the need the surgery. Since PRP is an autologous blood injection, obtained from a patient’s own blood, the risk of reaction is low.
A PRP knee injection takes less than 15 minutes. Response to treatment will vary with each patient. Most patients will require 1-3 sets of PRP knee injections, with each set of treatments spaced 4-6 weeks apart.
If you are interested in seeking PRP knee injections, or would like to determine if you are a candidate for an autologous blood injection in the knee, please contact Dr. Nikhil Verma, knee specialist in the Chicago, Westchester, Oak Brook and Hinsdale, Illinois area.
Biologic Therapies FAQ
- How do Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC) stem cells accelerate the healing process?
- Are Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC) stem cells considered regenerative therapies?
- Are all Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC) stem cell therapies the same?
- Is there an age limit for Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC) regenerative therapy?
- Why is Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC) sometimes called a stem cell “like” therapy?
- Why doesn’t my insurance cover this treatment?