One newer option you might hear about is biologics. These are typically injected into the joint and have a biological effect, designed to either provide some temporary relief or potential short-term repair.
Note: You should consult an orthopaedic surgeon prior to getting any injections as there can be an increased risk of infection if you have an injection too close to surgery.
Here are some common biologics you might read about:
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP):
Platelet-Rich Plasma is taken from the patient’s own blood. The blood is drawn and then put in a machine that spins at high speed (centrifuge) to condense the platelets together. The platelet-dense fluid is then taken and injected into the areas that need help healing.
How would PRP help my joint?
Using PRP for conservative treatment of osteoarthritis is still somewhat new. Still, the early science suggests that PRP contains growth factors and proteins (in addition to the platelets) that may potentially help grow tissue and aid in the healing process. 7 There is at least some science to support the idea that PRP injections may also reduce pain in patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis, specifically. 7
I have heard that PRP is not FDA approved- is it safe to use?
It is true that PRP injection is not FDA approved for the treatment of osteoarthritis, but the reasons are a bit complicated. The FDA regulates the transplantation of human cells, tissues, and cell and tissue-based products (HCT/Ps). Simply put, the FDA does not think PRP injections are in this category (and therefore, not eligible for FDA regulation). However, the FDA did clear PRP for some other orthopedic uses (primarily blending it into bone grafting mixtures).
So, what does this mean for you? Well, since the FDA cleared PRP for other related uses, many doctors believe PRP is an acceptable ‘off-label’ treatment for osteoarthritis. However, you should be aware that since PRP is not approved for osteoarthritis, it is typically not covered by insurance.
As far as risks are concerned, since PRP is obtained from your body, many doctors consider it a low risk/minimally invasive treatment, and most scientific studies have been supportive. 7,10,11
Hyaluronic Acid (HA):
Hyaluronic Acid is something that your body normally creates that helps lubricate your joints and reduce swelling, but sometimes there is not enough in your joints. HA injections can be a good option for patients who cannot take or respond well to anti-inflammatories such as NSAIDs. Although your body does naturally make HA, the injections you receive for treatment are a manufactured product, currently sold under the following brand names:
- Synvisc, Synvisc-One
Are HA injections FDA approved?
Yes, the above-listed injections are approved for the treatment of osteoarthritic knee pain.
Are HA injections safe?
Yes, in randomized, controlled trials examining HA injections, the risk of adverse events appears to be low. 8, 11
PRP + HA:
Sometimes, your doctor may advise that you receive both PRP and HA injections, and there have been some recent studies that have found that using the combination of both can be more beneficial than using each alone. 9
What is available at FOI?
If you are interested in learning more about conservative treatment options for your hip or knee, you can make an appointment online or by calling: 813-978-9797