Chronic pain can be debilitating, affecting your quality of life and impacting the activities you can participate in. One of the most common locations of chronic pain in the lower back. Back pain can arise for a variety of reasons, from pinched nerves to degenerating or compressed intervertebral discs. No matter the cause for the pain, it can be difficult to treat, and many treatment options call for surgical procedures to be completed.
However, new regenerative medicine therapy options provide alternative treatments that can help to address the source of your back pain, regenerating damaged tissues and restoring the functionality of the spine and muscles in the lower back. Platelet-rich plasma therapy is one of the leading regenerative medicine options, and it can provide relief in a minimally invasive and efficient way.
Common Low Back Pain Treatments
For many patients, the two most commonly prescribed therapy options include corticosteroid injections or surgical procedures. Cortisone shots are given directly into the damaged tissues, and they work to reduce pain and swelling in the area. However, this relief is only temporary, ranging from around one week to a year.
Injecting corticosteroids into the spine and surrounding area can also be associated with a number of potential side effects. Some of these can include the development of an infection, internal bleeding, or paralysis in severe cases. Steroids can also alter your body's ability to produce and utilize insulin, which can affect your blood glucose levels and change your metabolic rate.
A limit is placed on the number of injections you can receive. In most cases, injections can only be received every six to eight weeks and are limited to around three per year to ensure the joint maintains its integrity. This can make it increasingly difficult to deal with lower back pain between injections, especially if the injury continues to worsen.
Surgical procedures vary significantly based on the exact type of injury you have been diagnosed with. The most common surgeries work to repair degenerating or herniated discs that are found between each of the vertebrae in the spine. While surgery can be effective in some cases, it can also cause complications following the procedure, require physical therapy, have a long recovery time, and more.
The Promise of Platelet Rich Plasma
Due to the potential complications of both of these treatment options, an alternative choice that can have a direct positive impact on the root of the pain is ideal. Platelet-rich plasma, also known as PRP, provides this capability.
PRP is derived from a sample of a person's own blood, which is then centrifuged to allow the physician to isolate the portion of the blood that is rich in growth factors, cytokines, enzyme inhibitors, and other components that are critical to the tissue healing process.
When this concentrated mixture is injected directly into the damaged tissue, it can accelerate the healing process in many ways. PRP can help to recruit stem cells to the area, which are responsible for creating new tissues to regenerate any damage that has occurred. PRP can also decrease swelling to lower pain levels and reduce tenderness.
A further benefit of platelet-rich plasma is the fact that there are no limits to the number of injections that can be given because of the fact that all the cells injected are were originally from the same person. The sample being autologous also avoids the risk of complications like an infection from contamination, the development of a harmful disease, and others.
Many studies have been done to show the effectiveness of PRP therapy on reducing lower back pain. One study found that PRP injections were able to reduce patient pain scores from an average of 7.1 to only 1.8. This is a significant decrease, and the pain levels remained low for six months and more following the treatment.
Another study noted improvements in 14 patients. These individuals had experienced chronic low back pain for at least 10 months prior to the injection. More than half the individuals reported that their pain levels were reduced by more than 50 percent, and nearly 80 percent of them noted improved functionality and improved ability to perform daily tasks without pain.
Other studies have noted similar results. One patient noted complete pain relief after she was given an injection. Two years after the injection, she reported that her pain levels were still zero and that her functionality had improved substantially.
The ability of PRP therapy to provide long-term pain relief speaks to its capacity to actually heal the damaged tissues, addressing the physical cause of the problem. In addition to these positive benefits, one of the biggest perks of PRP therapy is the lack of negative side effects. PRP injections have not been shown to cause any complications in regard to health, functionality, or pain.
Platelet-rich plasma provides a great option to treat chronic lower back pain that stems from a variety of different injuries. These injections are minimally invasive, are associated with no major side effects, and they have the ability to regenerate damaged tissues to address injuries directly.