Osteoarthritis, a form of arthritis, is a vicious joint condition that affects close to 50 million people in the United States. This chronic condition mainly targets cartilage, causing joint pain and reduced motion. Other forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
People with Osteoarthritis often feel stiffness in their limbs when they sit or rest for long periods of time. Their joints may also swell, feel more tender or even crunch as bones rub together.
Doctors diagnosis Osteoarthritis by examining a patient’s medical history, using physical exams, X rays, blood work or extracting fluid from the joints. Common causes of the condition include being overweight, old age,joint injury, improperly formed joints and genetics, to name a few.
Many treatments exist for Osteoarthritis, exercise, weight control, rest, joint care and alternative medicines. However, scientists are still looking for a more definitive solution to counteract inflammation, alleviate pain and restore normal function.
One therapy proposed to treat osteoarthritis is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Originally discovered as a potential way to stimulate chondrocytes to grow cartilage tissue, not much has been said about PRP treatment on Osteoarthritis and its effects on cartilage degeneration. A new study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine looks to do just that.
The study, published in the clinical journal of spots medicine, began with 22 patients, but four dropped and one other had to be excluded due to having an additional viscosupplement during the study. Researchers, therefore, injected 17 patients who had Osteoarthritis in the knees with a single 6-ml PRP plasma solution and evaluated patients on the first, third, sixth and 12th month after their injection. The researchers used visual analog scale scores to measure knee pain and function. They used the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) scores to measure knee pain, stiffness and activities of daily living.
When the study ended, researchers concluded that of the 15 knees operated on, 80 percent had not worsened. However, there was also no significant improvement at the one year mark. What the pilot study, however, does suggest is that PRP may have a much more significant impact on patients with early stages of Osteoarthritis.
Future studies will have to determine standardization in the PRP production method as none of the studies analyzed addressed number, timing or volume of applications. More so, future research will have to do a better job of describing the backgrounds of subjects.