A Shot at Easing Knee Pain

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Easing pain with a simple injection. It's not a medication but a remedy already in your own body.

The path to pain free, a needle stick. Blood is drawn, then spun.

Vasili Karas, Research Coordinator: "This is the patient's blood after it spun down in a centrifuge for five minutes."

Red and white blood cells settle on the bottom, while platelet rich plasma, or PRP, rises.

Vasili Karas: "This top yellow portion is what we'll be re-injecting into the patient."

Back in the body -- this serum seems to soothe aching knees.

Vasili Karas: "The knee is an area that does not have normal blood flow within the knee capsule, so we're actually adding the platelets and the plasma into that area."

Dr. Brian Cole, Rush Orthopedic Surgeon: "We're not saying it's going to repair the cartilage, we're saying that it's going to cool down the symptoms of osteoarthritis."

How much? that's what doctors at Rush University Medical Center want to know. Kristine Pilat is lending a hand with the study.

Kristine Pilat: "If I tried this procedure, perhaps I wouldn't have to have any surgery, and it would alleviate the swelling."

An active athlete -- running, kayaking and hiking -- one day pain put the brakes on Kristine's activity.

Kristine Pilat: "It was getting more swollen and swollen everytime I worked out to the point that the swelling never went away."

So she ran to Dr. Brian Cole. Three injections and the sky is literally the limit.

Kristine Pilat: "I'm on the treadmill, on the elliptical machine, I went mountain climbing in Arizona a couple weeks ago."

Dr. Brian Cole, Rush Orthopedic Surgeon: "We believe the growth factors in PRP will down regulate the bad things in the joint and up regulate the good things. We're in the process of proving that in the culture dish with PRP and comparing that to hyaluronic acid."

Doctors draw fluid after the treatment to check the progress.

Dr. Brian Cole: "Our hope is that we'll be able to show that the use of platelets is safe, cost effective and compared to other treatments it's superior in terms of reducing pain and improving function."

Kristine Pilat: "I'm back to 100% of what I love to do."

Doctors have already shown PRP works in rotator cuff repairs and has a positive effect in surgery. But the idea of prolonging or replacing surgery is a new goal. Time will tell the story of success.

For more information about the PRP clinical trial, call (312) 432-2380

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