Healing Back Pain with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
What is Back Pain?
Back pain is the most common pain condition in our society. In fact, nearly 80% of adults have experienced back pain at some point in their lives. In some cases, back pain begins abruptly after a significant injury. Other times, back pain is more insidious, coming and going over the years. Back pain sufferers generally have weakness and dysfunction of the supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons. This weakness and laxity causes degeneration of the spinal discs and compression of the nerves. The result of these conditions is limited function and a significant decrease in quality of life.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The symptoms of back pain can range from an uncomfortable ache to severe pain that is disabling. The pain can stay in the spine or it may radiate down the legs and feet (aka sciatica). This is often accompanied by weakness or numbness. Successful treatment of back pain requires a good history that identifies all the contributing factors and a thorough physical exam to locate the pain generators. Often, imaging studies such as MRI and X-rays, and nerve studies (EMGs) can be used to help make the diagnosis.
Standard Back Pain Treatments
Most people with back pain start treatment with their primary care doctor. They are generally given steroids, pain pills and muscle relaxers. Sometimes these treatments help temporarily but may have side effects like weight gain, increased blood sugar, and thinning of bones. Physical therapy is another first line treatment that often is helpful to increase core stability and improve biomechanics. Unfortunately for many, physical therapy alone may not be enough to provide long term relief.
When these first line therapies fail, doctors often recommend steroid injections. Again, these treatments can be effective at reducing back pain temporarily, but often do not provide long term relief. Over time, repeated steroid injections lose their effectiveness and can cause unwanted consequences including degeneration of the surrounding structures and muscle atrophy. This can lead to more spinal instability and degeneration.
A New Approach for Back Pain
Luckily for back pain sufferers, there is a safe and natural solution to heal the spine and provide long term pain relief. Platelet Rich Plasma (aka PRP) injections are becoming the new standard of care in treating a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions including back pain.
PRP is created by taking a patient’s own blood and spinning it in a centrifuge to concentrate platelets. Platelets are the first responders to any injury; they mobilize the immune system and initiate the healing process. When concentrated platelets are injected they become activated, stick together like glue, and release an array of natural growth factors. These growth factors signal the body’s own stem cells and other specialized healing cells to come to the area of injury and start the process of healing. Some of the growth factors have other effects including decreasing pain, improving blood flow and stimulating nerve regeneration. The glue-like substance of platelets can stick around in the injected area for 1-2 weeks providing a sustained release of these growth factors meaning the healing continues for weeks after the injections.
For back pain, PRP is injected into the spinal ligaments, joints and muscles under ultrasound guidance to stimulate the healing response. This leads to a strengthening of the supporting structures, regeneration of the joints and improved spinal stability which again is usually the underlying cause leading to back pain.
Numerous clinical trials have shown that PRP injections into and around the spinal joints can provide long term relief and stimulate muscle growth. Several studies have also demonstrated that injecting the growth factors from PRP into the epidural space can decrease pain and help with neurological symptoms better than steroid epidurals. All this without the negative side effects of steroids.
Healing The Back at Integrative Rehab Medicine
At IRM, all regenerative spinal procedures are done by Dr. Sebastian, a board-certified physician with advanced training in Regenerative medicine. All of our procedures are done under ultrasound guidance ensuring that these platelets and growth factors are delivered exactly where they are needed most.
Our spinal PRP treatments are just one aspect of our Integrative Advantage™ which is the most comprehensive treatment strategy for back pain in Southwest Florida. We combine multiple modalities to provide the best results including Platelet Rich Plasma, personalized physical therapy, an anti-inflammatory diet, and acupuncture. We also use the most state of the art Energy Modalities such as low-level laser therapy and PEMF to further decrease symptoms and support the healing process
If you are tired of back pain stopping you from living the life you want to live, be sure to schedule your consultation today to discuss how PRP can help you on your healing journey.