Joint Injections Compared: Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) & Stem Cell vs. Viscosupplementation

Joint Injection Options

Tired of living with knee pain? Confused about which joint injection treatment will work for you?


Kelly Cunningham, MD,  compares non-surgical joint injections for your joint pain and muscle/tendon injury.

Founder of Austin Ortho+Biologics and a board certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Cunningham answers a common question from his patients about two different kinds of joint injections.


What are the differences between Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)/Stem Cell and Viscosupplementation (lubricant, injections for joint pain? 

Austin Ortho+Biologics specializes in the treatment of joint pain and injury, using emerging orthopedic techniques of regenerative sports medicine.

Comparing Joint Injections


  • Viscosupplementation, lubricant (or “rooster comb”  injection treatment of the knee requires 3 to 5 weekly injections.
  • Single lubricant injections have not proven to work very well.

Both PRP and stem cell injections, usually performed in an office setting, require only one or occasionally two injections, several weeks apart.

Viscosupplementation is only approved for use in the knee  (not the shoulder, hip or other joints) by insurance and Medicare.  While that might not seem important, it is quite expensive to pay cash for the multiple lubricant injections of joints other than the knee.

On the other hand,  large insurance deductibles and co-pays, for multiple knee lubricant injections can quickly add up to more than the price of  PRP or stem cell injection.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)/Stem Cell Biologics injection can be done in any joint, with no significant difference in cost.

  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and/or Stem Cell uses several natural substances to treat your condition.
  • Viscosupplementation (lubricant) contains only one active ingredient, hyaluronic acid.

The best analogy I’ve used is “arrows in a quiver”–  a ‘lubricant’ injection gives you one arrow, one shot; while Biologics uses seven or more factors in a single injection, giving you that many more chances for meaningful pain relief, each patient being somewhat different with respect to the cause of their joint pain.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)/Stem Cell Biologics uses natural pain relievers and growth factors from your own body.

Viscosupplementation is taken from animals or produced in a laboratory; not an autologous substance (from your own body).

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)/Stem Cell Biologics have been shown in numerous studies to treat mild to moderate arthritis with better quality and longer lasting results than viscosupplementation.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)/Stem Cell Biologics is an increasingly relevant addition to healing of surgically repaired tissue and  is the future of  regenerative medicine.

Visit to learn more about these and other advantages of biologic treatment with platelet rich plasma and stem cell therapy for your joint pain or sports medicine injury.