Have you ever wondered whether there are effective, affordable, non-surgical options for your knee pain? Most people who endure the lack of mobility, discomfort, and other problems associated with knee osteoarthritis (KOA) are glad to try something that has a good chance of bringing relief.
The problem with most modern approaches to KOA is that they either involve drugs and temporary painkillers or risky, expensive surgery. The drugs can eventually stop working or even lead to addiction. And surgery isn’t always a sure thing, has lots of unwanted side effects, and can cause financial difficulties for just about anyone. What’s the answer?
For millions of KOA sufferers, it’s platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment. To manage the pain of the condition, your chiropractic physician can inject your own blood plasma into the pain site to speed up the natural healing process.
It’s important to understand how PRP works so that you can be as informed as possible when you decide to move ahead with treatment for whatever type of pain you have. For example, there are multiple kinds of arthritis, including:
If you’re dealing with OA, then your chances of getting relief from platelet-rich plasma therapy are very good. However, it is essential to undergo a full medical exam and ask your chiropractic physician to work up a full diagnosis of the condition. These first, basic steps are an important part of the treatment regimen and help your doctor pinpoint the best strategies for alleviating the pain and discomfort associated with any type of pain.
How Does PRP Treatment Help Heal Arthritic Knees?
Every year, untold millions of people develop some type of osteoarthritis, typically called “OA” for short. When it appears in the knees, it’s called KOA, meaning “knee osteoarthritis.” Whatever part of the body stricken by OA can develop intense pain and mobility issues. For example, if you have KOA, your symptoms could range from mild discomfort to serious pain and the inability to walk, in extreme cases.
But, the first question KOA victims ask is, “Does platelet-rich plasma therapy actually work?” The short answer is yes. The longer explanation focuses on the contents of human blood. Everyone’s blood contains plasma (a fluid), red cells, white cells, and platelets, tiny fragments that themselves contain growth factors. It is these components of your blood that cause cuts, scrapes, bruises, and other injuries to heal.
Left alone, they work slowly, but surely. However, they can work much faster and more effectively when they’re injected directly into the pain site after having been removed from a blood sample (taken from you) and concentrated in a centrifuge. New cells form as a result of high-concentration platelet treatment. In fact, PRP treatment can even reverse some forms of damage to your body’s tissues. That’s very good news for KOA patients who are in a lot of pain during the advanced stages of the condition.
What’s the Procedure Like?
It’s human nature to be curious about any new kind of medical treatment, and PRP is no exception. People who have never had it before, often wonder how long it takes, whether it’s painful, what side-effects, if any, might show up, and what the typical cost is.
Step one is for you to visit the chiropractor and have an evaluation and diagnosis. If OA of the knee is the problem and your doctor indicates that PRP would be a good option, you’ll have a small blood sample taken from your arm.
After that, the sample will be spun in a centrifuge so the platelets can be separated from the white and red cells. The concentrated platelets, suspended in plasma, are then treated in such a way so that they can be directly injected back into your body. But, this time only the platelet-rich plasma will be injected, and it will be introduced into the tissue around your knee in order to promote rapid healing of the arthritic areas.
Don’t worry. There’s no pain involved because the chiropractor will make sure to numb the injection point, which is typically one of the joint gaps, or spaces on the knee. Sometimes the doctor might employ an ultrasound instrument to locate the exact best spot to introduce the platelet-rich plasma. That’s it for the session, and you should expect to have a bit of temporary stiffness and mild discomfort immediately after the PRP treatment. But, most patients go home immediately after the process is complete.
Osteoarthritis PRP Treatment Recovery
After returning home, what should you do? Well, specific recovery procedures are unique to each individual, based on how severe their original knee osteoarthritis was. But, for the most part, patients who are finished with the session and return home do several things, including:
- Cold therapy: For many patients, applying an ice pack or bag of ice to the knee for about 20 minutes every few hours is a good way to keep swelling and mild pain at bay for the first few days after treatment.
- Rest: The body needs to rest during KOA treatment. PRP therapy is most effective when you’re not stressing out your body in other ways. That’s why your chiropractor will suggest that even if you don’t feel any pain in your knee, you should rest as much as possible. The thing about knees is that whenever we walk, run, or move about in any way, we use them. So, trying to stay off your feet is the best method for giving the knees a total rest, and giving the PRP treatment its best environment for total effectiveness.
- Avoiding weight-bearing activity: Perhaps the most important part of your recovery during PRP treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee is avoiding weight-bearing activities of any kind, even walking. This also includes any type of exercise that puts pressure on the knee. Most people find that doing some light stretching while lying down is a good way to soothe the body’s general stiffness. The key point, however, is to let the platelet-rich plasma do its healing work without interruption by weight-bearing activities.
- Avoiding pain-killers: Don’t take pain-killing drugs, which only mask, and don’t treat, the effects of pain and discomfort. It’s important for you to “listen to your body” to see how the natural PRP healing process is proceeding. Pain-killers and most other drugs marketed for pain, even over-the-counter ones, can get in the way of this communication between you and your body. If your doctor says that you can take aspirin or something like Tylenol, that would be okay, but only if you get a specific okay from the doctor before heading home.
- Alerting the chiropractor about anything unusual: It’s vital to let your doctor know if you experience anything out of the ordinary, like severe recurrence of pain, headaches, or an injury to the treated area. Even if you don’t encounter something unusual, expect to receive regular calls or email messages from the chiropractor’s office so that they can “check in” with you and find out how your at-home recovery process is going.
Catch OA Before It Gets Worse
Osteoarthritis of the knee can be a physically painful and emotionally draining condition for anyone, of any age. It strikes unexpectedly and doesn’t go away on its own. In fact, ignoring it is a recipe for even more pain, discomfort, and lack of mobility. At Integrative Physical Health, we deal with knee osteoarthritis regularly, in patients young and old, male and female, active and inactive.
Check out our website to learn more about what we do, or simply call us directly at (302) 993-9113 for a no-cost consultation about your OA or anything else that you feel might benefit from chiropractic care or regenerative medical treatments like PRP.