Platelet-rich plasma, in theory, seems like a logical and potentially beneficial treatment for osteoarthritis. Our pain expert reviews 2 recent studies that are telling.
Despite the limited amount of quality studies supporting their use, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are increasingly being used for the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA).
Because the injections use the patient’s own blood product, the treatment is considered to be safe. PRP contains several agents including growth factors and cytokines that might affect the disease process occurring in OA.
Two recent studies, one on the use of PRP for knee OA and the other for ankle OA, call the efficacy of the therapy into question.
Public Health Burden of Osteoarthritis
Study #1. Knee OA: Bennell KL, et al. Effects of intra-articular platelet-rich plasma vs placebo injection on pain and medial tibial cartilage volume in patients with knee osteoarthritis: The RESTORE randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2021;326:2021-2030. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34812863/)
RESTORE Trial, Knee OA: Two primary outcomes measured at 1 year.
RESTORE Trial, Knee OA Results at 1-year follow-up
Study #2: Ankle OA. Paget LDA, et al. Effect of platelet-rich plasma injections vs placebo on ankle symptoms and function in patients with ankle osteoarthritis: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2021;326:1595-1605. (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2785499)
Study #2: Ankle OA. Primary outcome measured at 26 weeks; between group difference was not statistically significant.
PRP injections for osteoarthritis, conclusions: The theoretical principle behind PRP benefit for OA treatment, ie, effect on underlying pathology, is outweighed by the lack of high-quality studies to support the concept.
PRP injections for treatment of OA is not recommended by the American College of Rheumatology.