The number of Americans suffering from chronic pain is staggering. Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) is an amazing regenerative medicine technique that may help people get out of pain for good. In 2012, one-half of ALL adults reported having chronic pain lasting greater than three months. Many people deal with the pain for years or decades or attempt to mask the pain with medications that may have long-term health consequences. Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, are known to cause gastrointestinal bleeding, can irreparably damage the liver or kidneys and cause fatal cardiovascular events. There is now a huge, growing epidemic of opioid addiction, as people turn to stronger and stronger medications to help ease their pain. Once the pain becomes unbearable, patients see their doctors who refer them to orthopedic surgeons that recommend surgery for them. However, not all people are candidates for surgery and surgery may not be the end-all-be-all to help people get out of chronic pain. Furthermore, the recovery from replacement surgeries of large joints like the knee, shoulder and hip, can be lengthy and there is no guarantee that individuals who have undergone these procedures will live a pain-free life. For instance, up to 40% (yes almost ½ of all patients!) of patients receiving spinal surgeries, may receive no benefit, need additional surgeries and end up back where they started – in chronic, debilitating pain.
This is where Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) comes in. The majority of total knee or hip replacement candidates have severe osteoarthritis (OA). In this diseased state, the cartilage between the two bones that comprise the joint has been worn away over time. What was a normal, healthy cushion has been eroded and the friction and pounding between the surfaces of the two bones in the joint causes severe pain, grinding and swelling in the joint. PRP functions to help rebuild the healthy tissue that has been compromised. Platelets, that contain specialized repair factors, are cells in the body that aid in healing injured tissue. If you cut your finger, one of the first cells that swarm to the area are platelets. They function there to form a plug and stop the bleeding. In the case of PRP for joint restoration, platelets also contain growth factors that get the body to grow NEW, healthy tissue in the damaged area.
I have seen PRP help many individuals prolong or prevent the need for surgery. My patient Bob, an avid long-time golfer came to me with chronic shoulder pain. After multiple cortisone injections and taking ibuprofen like it was candy before playing golf, just so he could get through a round, he came to me for PRP. After just one injection, he was pain-free for 6 months, despite continuing to play golf and not resting his shoulder. I have seen the success of PRP repeatedly and have treated many other painful conditions using this treatment including low back pain, knee pain, neck pain, hip pain, TMJ syndrome, plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow. The entire procedure takes about 1 hour total in the office to complete. A small amount of blood is drawn, it is spun in a medical device called a centrifuge and then the PRP solution is injected via a small needle into the affected area.
To learn more about PRP or to schedule your FREE 15 minute consultation, visit the Dr. Cav website HERE.