Platelet-Rich-Plasma Injections vs Hyaluronic Acid for Knee Arthritis

Platelet-Rich-Plasma Injections vs Hyaluronic Acid for Knee Arthritis

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Living with pain from arthritis in your joints is not fun and is downright debilitating at times. Knee joint pain can be some of the worst. If you’re struggling to make it through the day when it feels like someone is jabbing an icepick through your joint, it’s time to find a solution.  

Injection

There have been some amazing advances in medicine and joint pain relief over the past several years. There are multiple injections and other non-surgical therapies that can be used to offer relief to those who are suffering from knee joint pain caused by arthritis. 

If your quality of life has become an issue and you would like more information regarding therapies to reduce your pain and avoid immediate surgery, you’re in the right place. 

Platelet-Rich-Plasma Injections - What are They?

Platelet-Rich-Plasma, or PRP, is the process of drawing blood and condensing platelets into an injectable serum. 

Platelet-Rich-Plasma Serum

When this serum is injected into the affected area of the body, it stimulates the reparative cells of the tissue to increase healing time and reducing pain.

The great thing about PRP injections is that the serum is made from the patient’s blood, so there is little chance of allergic reactions. 

Cool Fact: PRP injections can potentially increase your healing time by five or ten times the normal rate!

There is a lot of science that goes into the making of these injections and not as much research as of yet, although more studies are being done every day. 

Since it is a newer technology, only time will tell how permanent of a solution PRP is. Who knows? Maybe in the future, they can eliminate the need for surgery!

See it Happen: PRP Injection

PRP Injections - Are They for You?

Now that you have a basic understanding of what PRP injections are, you may be wondering if you are a good candidate for this therapy. The following list shows what qualifies someone as a good candidate for PRP injections: 

  • Those who have difficulty with osteoarthritis in their knee joint(s)
  • Those who have gone through physical trauma 
  • Those who have sports injuries

PRP Injections- How Often Should You Get Them?

You may be wondering if PRP injections are a one-time thing and if they will completely take away the possibility of surgery. This depends entirely upon your body and the condition it’s in when the PRP injections are given. 

In most cases, an individual will start to feel relief within the first six weeks.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections vs Hyaluronic Acid Injections for Knee ArthritisAs far as whether or not they are permanent or will completely wipe out the need for some surgeries, there are still many studies out on this subject. 

Many studies are indicating that PRP injections may be the way of the future as they are seeing amazing results in some patients. 

Interesting tidbit:  PRP injections are not specific to arthritis and joint pain. 

Many other uses are proving that they work to help patients that are suffering from assorted medical issues. 

To answer the initial question as to the frequency of injections, most people experience relief for around 9-12 months after the initial injection. At that point, it is up to the individual and the doctor to determine if it would be beneficial to have another injection or explore other options.

What Happens After the Injection?

For the first three days after injection, you should use a cold compress on the injection site every three hours or so for about 15-20 minutes, but no longer than that as it can cause damage to your tissue and negate the whole process. 

For the first three days after your injection, it is important to avoid activities that put weight or excessive strain on your knee, except for necessary functions such as: 

  • Bathing
  • Cooking
  • Using the bathroom

If needed you may use crutches to keep the weight off of your joint. For about two weeks after the injection, you need to continue to avoid strenuous activities and try not to put too much weight on your knee. 

After two weeks you can typically resume your normal activities, but it is still recommended that you reduce the strenuous and weight-bearing activities for a little while as you are going through the healing process.

Hyaluronic Acid Injections

The hyaluronic acid injections are given by your doctor and are typically produced in a laboratory or harvested from rooster combs. 

Hyaluronic acid injections are typically given when all other non-surgical options have been exhausted. It is important to discuss any allergies you have with your doctor and which medications you take before having these injections.

Frequency of Injections

Most individuals receive a series of injections around one week apart for up to 4 – 6 weeks. In some cases people will begin to feel some relief from the first injection, however, in most cases, it takes a series of injections before the full effects are felt. 

Pain Relief

The amount of relief and length of time that the injections give will vary from person to person. Typically the injections will relieve pain anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months. 

When is it Time for Hyaluronic Acid Injections?

You may be wondering if or when you should get hyaluronic acid injections. That answer is up to you and your doctor. It is recommended that you try all other non-surgical options first. If they are not helping to kick the pain, then it is probably time to try injections. 

Once you have received your first injection it is important to take it easy for about two days. You don’t want to be overly active as it can affect the way the injection works. 

For more detailed information on hyaluronic acid injections please click this link.

Can I Take Pain Medication?

Regardless of which injection you receive, it is strongly recommended by doctors that you discontinue the use of any pain medications for at least a week before the injection and ideally up to six weeks after.

Once you get the injection you want the body to start healing and repairing itself. This is done through normal inflammation. Pain medication may stop or hinder those normal healing pathways.

Pain Medicine

Speak with your doctor regarding any concerns you may have especially if you are taking aspirin for a heart condition.

Are PRP and Hyaluronic Acid Injections Covered by Insurance?

Unfortunately, some insurance companies will not cover these treatments. PRP injections are still considered to be experimental by many insurance companies. 

As these injections are becoming more popular and proving to be an effective treatment, insurance companies are starting to cover them if it fits within their requirements as a necessary medical procedure. 

Are PRP Injections Covered by Medicare?

As of right now, PRP injections are not covered by medicare for knee pain or as a treatment for arthritis. This may change in the future if more quality research can prove it’s effectiveness. 

Out-of-Pocket Means Out of This World Prices

The best thing to do is check with your insurance company before making any decisions. If you have to pay out-of-pocket for the injections it could run you up to $2,000! Ouch! That hurts more than the injection itself.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.