Chronic pain from joints can be particularly hard to treat, since it’s often a symptom of a degenerative condition, such as arthritis. Drug-dependent pain management can lead to problems with dependency, resistance, or issues with side effects. Joint replacement surgery is increasingly effective, but it’s still a last-resort procedure.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, in use since the late 1980s, represents a drug-free way to assist your body’s own healing mechanisms to reduce pain and slow the progression of joint deterioration. Though the precise workings of PRP aren’t fully understood, adding this therapy to your treatment plan has little risk of side effects with great potential benefits.
You likely know platelets in their role as clotting agents for closing cuts and scrapes. As well as closing wounds, platelets also promote healing by delivering nutrients needed by your body to complete its own repairs. In particular, growth factor hormones, delivered by platelets, act as accelerators when delivered by PRP therapy.
PRP is derived from a sample of your own blood, making the therapy very biocompatible, with no risk of allergic reaction. In fact, the biggest risk of PRP therapy is the same as any blood-drawing or injecting procedure. This is one reason why PRP treatments are done on a widespread basis, though there’s still much to learn about how they work.
If you have difficulty coping with the treatments for your joint pain, PRP therapy can reduce your dependence on them. For instance, corticosteroid injections often prove effective at reducing inflammation and pain, but the effects are temporary. While you can have additional injections, there comes a time when the steroids start to cause their own damage.
Taking analgesic medications typically works until you build resistance to the medication, requiring heavier doses or stronger medications. Overuse of opioids is well documented in the media, and relief from chronic pain is a contributor to this crisis.
Joint replacement prostheses have a limited lifespan, typically about 20 years, so if you’re in your 30s or 40s, you may wish to postpone replacement surgery until there’s a better chance you won’t need another replacement down the road. Any of these situations may make PRP treatments attractive.
Despite over 30 years of use in cellular regeneration, there still isn’t widespread research on the effects of PRP therapy. Studies are starting to indicate that PRP’s effects are statistically superior to placebo groups. Not only is pain reduced, but often function of the treated joint improves. Results vary widely among patients.
Research to date has largely been of short duration with small study groups, and few of these trials use more than one or two PRP injections. Anecdotal evidence points toward ongoing PRP therapy as the most effective protocol.
If you’re having trouble managing chronic joint pain, it may be time to contact Reid Physicians Group to investigate new, drug-free treatment options, including PRP therapy. Your body is capable of remarkable recovery and regeneration, and your medical care should support those natural efforts.
Contact the office by phone or by using the online booking tool to arrange your consultation today.