Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent type of arthritis, which significantly impacts the patient’s mobility and quality of life. Pharmacological treatments for osteoarthritis, such as corticosteroids, produce an immediate reduction of the patient’s pain as well as an improvement in the patient’s mobility and quality of life, but with a limited long-term efficacy. In this context, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) infiltrations represent a therapeutic tool due to its trophic properties and its ability to control inflammatory processes, especially in musculoskeletal applications. The aim of this study is to evaluate and compare the clinical benefits of PRP when injected intra-articularly vs a commonly used corticosteroid (CS, triamcinolone acetonide, Kenalog®) in patients affected by mild to moderate symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.
Forty patients affected by symptomatic radiologically confirmed knee osteoarthritis (Kellgren-Lawrence grades II–III) were enrolled in this randomized study. Patients randomized in the PRP group ( n = 20) received an intra-articular injection of PRP (8 mL) while patients randomized in the CS group ( n = 20) received an intra-articular injection of triamcinolone acetonide (1 mL of 40 mg/mL) plus lidocaine (5 mL of 2%). The pain and function of the target knee were evaluated by the VAS, IKDC, and KSS scales at the baseline (V1), 1 week (V2), 5 weeks (V3), 15 weeks (V4), 30 weeks (V5), and 1 year (V6) after treatment.
No serious adverse effects were observed during the follow-up period. A mild synovitis was registered in 15 patients (75%) in the PRP group within the first week after treatment which resolved spontaneously. Both treatments were effective in relieving pain and improving the knee function in the very short-term follow-up visit (1 week). A high improvement of the subjective scores was observed for both groups up to 5 weeks, with no significative differences between the groups for the VAS, IKDC, or KSS. After 15 weeks of follow-up, the PRP group showed significative improvements in all scores when compared to the CS group. Overall, the patients who received PRP treatment had better outcomes in a longer follow-up visit (up to 1 year) than those who received CS.
A single PRP or CS intra-articular injection is safe and improves the short-term scores of pain and the knee function in patients affected by mild to moderate symptomatic knee OA (with no significant differences between the groups). PRP demonstrated a statistically significant improvement over CS in a 1-year follow-up. This study was registered at ISRCTN with the ID ISRCTN46024618.