An injury of any kind can be highly painful and very life-disruptive. However, in some cases, the recommended treatment (surgery) can be just as disruptive and painful, and it may only be partially effective. This is perhaps one reason why platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) has gained a lot of attention in recent years as a non-surgical treatment for spinal injuries. It’s already been used effectively to treat injuries in other parts of the body like aggravated wounds and osteoarthritis — but how effective is this treatment for injuries of the spine?
Actually, the science and the related results are both quite promising. Let’s explore.
What Is PRP Therapy?
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a non-invasive treatment that enables the body to heal itself more quickly and effectively. Your blood contains specialized “platelet” cells whose purpose is to cause clotting — to effectively “plug” a wound and stop bleeding so healing can begin. Platelets perform a critical function in reducing inflammation and promoting tissue regeneration. With PRP therapy, we extract some of the patient’s blood and run it through a centrifuge to separate out the platelet-rich plasma, in the process concentrating the platelet count by 5 to 10 times the amount that occurs in the blood. This platelet-rich substance is then injected back into the body at the injury site to accelerate the healing process.
Does PRP Therapy Really Work?
Not only are doctors and patients experiencing significant levels of success with this treatment, but the research is confirming these findings, as well. One recent study explored PRP’s effects on lumbar radiculopathy — the compression of the spinal nerve in the lower back that often causes sciatica. The study concluded that PRP therapy was a viable alternative treatment to epidural injections or surgery to promote healing in this area. Similarly, according to the National Pain Report, a study of patients receiving PRP treatment for low back pain showed that at least 60 percent of those patients reported lasting improvements in pain reduction and function.
What Spine Conditions Can PRP Therapy Treat?
We are finding platelet-rich plasma therapy can be an effective alternative to surgery for certain patients experiencing the following types of spine-related pain and injury:
- Facet joint pain/injury: Inflammation or injury of the joints in the spine that enable you to twist and bend
- Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain and injury: Injury and inflammation of the joints connecting the spine to the pelvis
- Intradiscal injuries: Damage to the spinal discs themselves
If you’re experiencing spinal pain or injury, the best way to learn whether you are a good candidate for platelet-rich plasma therapy is to be evaluated by a skilled spinal specialist. For an appointment, call Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center today at 404-256-2633.