If you are one of the 50 million Americans who suffer from arthritis, you experience pain in your joints and, no doubt, your activities are limited by your condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five Americans suffers from this disease, making arthritis the nation’s most common cause of disability.

The term arthritis is broad term that includes more than 100 different rheumatic diseases and conditions, the most common of which is osteoarthritis. Other well-known diseases that fall into the arthritis category include: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and gout. Arthritis symptoms include pain, aching, stiffness and swelling in or around the joints. Some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can affect multiple organs and cause widespread symptoms.

Arthritis can affect anyone. Eagles guitarist and co-founder Glenn Frey died earlier this year at the age of 67 from complications of rheumatoid arthritis. He was being treated with drugs for rheumatoid arthritis for over 15 years and side effects from the drugs over time caused an ulcer, colitis, and eventually pneumonia, which killed him.

Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy

One innovative new treatment for healing joint and tendon disease is called Platelet Rich Plasma therapy.  This therapy is a revolutionary way to address tissue injury by using components from a patient’s blood to trigger healing. These “healing components” are successful in treating joint and tendon conditions and non-healing wounds, as well as facilitating facial skin rejuvenation.

When the body becomes injured, a natural healing process occurs to repair the damaged tissue. Blood platelets and other components in our blood supply migrate to the site of injury where they release a variety of factors that initiate and subsequently promote healing. New advances in medicine have been developed to harness and concentrate these platelets to be precisely introduced to the injury site in an inject-able form.

A patient’s own blood spun in a centrifuge to separate out and concentrate the platelets. These concentrated platelets increase the healing growth factor to six to eight times faster than normal.

When platelet rich plasma is injected into a damaged area of the body, it stimulates a mild inflammatory response, which triggers the healing cascade. This leads to restored blood flow, new cell growth, tissue regeneration and ultimately, faster healing of soft tissue injuries.  Platelet Rich Plasma therapy has the potential to “supercharge” the body’s capacity for healing.

Platelet Rich Plasma therapy often offers a non-surgical approach to treating injuries and chronic pain. Other advantages of the Platelet Rich Plasma treatment are that it decreases the recovery time as compared to surgical procedures, and is safer than cortisone injections.

PRP for Knees

Many people over 50 suffer from arthritis in the knees or have torn the meniscus in their knee. The knee has two types of cartilage. The hyaline cartilage that firmly adheres at the end of the bones and allows smooth translation of the hard bone surface on each other, and the meniscus fibrocartilage that is in the inner and outer joint space.

The meniscus is like a bumper that allows shock absorption during loading/pivot stress and offers stability to the joint, but it is attached to the joint ligament and is more prone to injury—commonly known as meniscal tear.

Fairly often patients have to have surgery to remove part of the meniscus if they have torn it. However, once part of the meniscus is removed, the joint loses some of its cushioning from outside forces. Also the patient has a high chance of getting arthritis in the knee after surgery, and eventually will require joint replacement surgery.

Doctors that prefer not to do surgery often use Platelet Rich Plasma for meniscal tears instead. Usually such treatment at least two procedures of PRP spaced about two to four weeks apart. This treatment not only allows the patient to keep their meniscus, but also helps to stave off arthritis due to surgery.

Study Shows Potential of PRP

The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine reported in 2013, “A study by researchers from the Hospital for Special Surgery has shown that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) holds great promise for treating patients with knee osteoarthritis.  The treatment improved pain and function, and in up to 73% of patients, appeared to delay the progression of osteoarthritis, which is a progressive disease.”

Osteoarthritis, which causes pain and joint stiffness, impacts over 27 million Americans and is a leading cause of disability. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overall osteoarthritis affects 13.9% of adults aged 25 and older and 33.6% of those older than 65.  The disease is characterized by degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint as well as bony overgrowth.

Dr. Halpern at the Hospital for Special Surgery noted, “We are entering into an era of biologic treatment, which is incredibly ideal, where you can use your cells to try to help repair your other cells, rather than using a substance that is artificial.”  He added, “The downside is next to zero and the upside is huge.”

The CDC has reported that as the U.S. population ages, the number of adults with arthritis is expected to increase to 67 million by 2030. “ Research has shown that people with arthritis are less likely to be physically active than people without arthritis,” stated the CDC.

If you are suffering from arthritis or any of its related conditions, you should make an appointment with Pivotal Health Physical Medicine today. We don’t want you to be limited in the physical activities you enjoy doing.  Allow us to help you reach your healthcare goals and offer you the latest and best arthritis treatments available, such as Platelet Rich Plasma therapy.  Pivotal Health is an office where you feel cared for and where the doctors listen to you.  Our integrated team is here to help you achieve the best long-term outcome.  Call us today at 941-697-3001.