Recently, the prevalence of knee osteoarthritis (OA) has climbed swiftly because of an increase in human life expectancy, physical activity, and obesity. With knee OA on the rise, doctors are in search of the best treatment for their patients. As a result, interest in intra-articular hyaluronic acid (HA) injections and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections has been rapidly increasing. But which treatment is the most effective, if any? A study on injections for knee OA conducted by Kuan-Yu Lin, M.D., Chia-Chi Yang, Ph.D., Chien-Jen Hsu, M.D., Ming-Long Yeh, Ph.D., and Jenn-Huei Renn, M.D., Ph.D. takes a closer look.
The study’s purpose was to prospectively compare the efficacy of intra-articular injections of PRP and HA with a sham control group (using normal saline solution [NS]) for knee OA in a randomized, dose-controlled, placebo-controlled, double-blind, triple-parallel clinical trial.
The clinical trial involved 53 patients with a total of 87 OA knees who were randomly assigned to one of three groups receiving three weekly injections of either 1. Leukocyte-poor PRP (31 OA knees) 2. HA (29 OA knees) or 3. NS (27 OA knees). To analyze the results, the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) score and International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) subjective score were utilized and collected at baseline and at one, two, six, and 12 months after treatment.
The results? While all three groups showed statistically significant improvements after one month, only the PRP group reached the minimal clinically important difference in the WOMAC score at every evaluation and the minimal clinically important difference in the IKDC score at six months, while sustaining significant improvement in both the WOMAC score and IKDC score at 12 months. Also interestingly enough, there was no significant difference in the functional outcomes between the HA and NS groups at any point in time.
The most significant finding of this study was that intra-articular injections of leukocyte-poor PRP can in fact provide clinically significant functional improvement for at least one year in patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee. If you want to learn more and discuss whether or not PRP injections are the right treatment for you, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.