PRP vs. Stem Cells for Knee Arthritis-What does the Data Say?

by Chris Centeno, MD /

Receive a Regenexx® Patient Info Packet by email and learn why it's a superior regenerative solution.

PRP vs. stem cells for knee arthritis

PRP vs. stem cells for knee arthritis?  First, let me say we love platelet rich plasma and have used platelet mixtures for many years. At the same time, we’ve been under-impressed with the ability of PRP to treat knee arthritis. First, PRP means platelet rich plasma, which is a concentration of the patient’s blood platelets. The goal of PRP is to concentrate the growth factors in platelets that help tissue heal. In order to compare the effectiveness of PRP compared to stem cells to treat knee arthritis over two years, I reviewed three PRP studies published in the past 12 months for the treatment of knee arthritis. One of these is a very small study of 14 patients, so it was excluded, as the Regenexx-C data is on more than 200 patients. The other two studies had about 100 patients each and reported things like severity of the arthritis, so they were included. One concern for any injection based treatment in the knee is that more severe arthritis may not respond as well as more mild knee arthritis. One study only looked at patients for 12 months (Kon) and the other  study followed patients for 24 months (Filardo). However, these two PRP studies for knee arthritis included patients with much less severe arthritis than those treated in our Regenexx-C procedure study. For example, note below that the Filardo PRP study only has a very small percentage of patients who were knee replacement candidates (about 1/4), while the Regenexx-C study had more than 2/3’rds of the patients with more severe knee arthritis who needed a knee replacement (listed as “TKA Candidate”).

To create a head to head comparison graph of the knee PRP data and the Regenexx stem cell outcome data, a little math was needed. Since all studies used slighly different patient outcome questionnaires, each was normalized for percentage improvement. For example, if one knee disability scale used in one study went from 40 points to 20 points (where a lower score means better knee function), this was converted to a 50% improvement. Looking above, you can see the two PRP studies (Kon and Filardo) graphed as percentage improvement. In both, at 6 months, the patients are reporting about a mean 50% improvement in their knee symptoms. However, this includes all patients, the vast majority of which had only mild arthritis. If we take out the group from the Filardo PRP knee study with more severe knee arthritis (listed as the red line or “PRP-Filardo Adv OA”), the results are much less robust. These patients end up with a bit more than 25% relief at 6 months, peak out at a bit less than 30% at 12 months, and then fall off to less than 20% relief at 24 months. In fact, even including the milder knee arthritis group, the Filardo study reported a mean duration of relief of only about 9 months. This shorter duration of relief is very similar to how mild knee arthritis patients respond to SynVisc injections (other name brands are Supartz, OrthoVisc, Euflexa, Hyalgan, etc…). Now note the Regenexx-C stem cell injections above (listed as “Stem Cells-Regenexx-C”). The relief starts out at 6 and 12 months at just under 70% and then improves from 12 to 24 months to about 80%. This data is more consistent with what’s seen in cartilage healing studies where micro fracture or knee ACI surgeries are performed, except that these Regenexx-C patients only received injections. The upshot? While trying to compare data from different studies is always difficult, however this comparison appears to follow what we see in the clinic-for knee arthritis, stem cells beat PRP.

stem cell knee injection

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
View Profile

Get Blog Updates by Email

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
Select Your Problem Area
Shoulder

Shoulder

Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

  • Rotator Cuff Tears and Tendinitis
  • Shoulder Instability
  • SLAP Tear / Labral Tears
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Other Degenerative Conditions & Overuse Injuries
Learn More
Cervical Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Knee

Knees

Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

  • Knee Meniscus Tears
  • Knee ACL Tears
  • Knee Instability
  • Knee Osteoarthritis
  • Other Knee Ligaments / Tendons & Overuse Injuries
  • And more
Learn More
Lower Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Hand & Wrist

Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Thumb Arthritis (Basal Joint, CMC, Gamer’s Thumb, Texting Thumb)
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More
Elbow

Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

  • Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Ulnar collateral ligament wear (common in baseball pitchers)
  • And more
Learn More
Hip

Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

  • Labral Tear
  • Hip Arthritis
  • Hip Bursitis
  • Hip Sprain, Tendonitis or Inflammation
  • Hip Instability
Learn More
Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Ankle Arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Ligament sprains or tears
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More

Is Regenexx Right For You?

Request a free Regenexx Info Packet

REGENEXX WEBINARS

Learn about the #1 Stem Cell & Platelet Procedures for treating arthritis, common joint injuries & spine pain.

Join a Webinar

RECEIVE BLOG ARTICLES BY EMAIL

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to the Blog

FOLLOW US

Copyright © Regenexx 2019. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.