Herniated or bulging discs can cause significant functional limitations and severe pain for people who suffer from them. Historically, patients had few options for treating discs that were bulging or herniated. They could choose to undergo steroid injections at high dosages, which caused side effects such as insomnia and anxiety. They could also undergo major back surgery, or they could simply opt to live with the debilitating pain, functional limitations, numbness, tingling and swelling associated with their herniated or bulging discs. Fortunately, patients with these types of disc problems now can turn to regenerative therapies such as stem cell therapies to treat their bulging or herniated discs and to restore function through tissue regeneration.
What is regenerative medicine?
Regenerative medicine is focused on regenerating healthy tissues in order to restore their functional capacities. Regenerative therapies include the delivery of growth factor or healthy cells to injury sites, helping the body to harness its own power to regenerate tissue and to restore its full function. Some examples of regenerative treatments include organ transplants and bone marrow transplants. With medical advances, stem cell therapies have developed as regenerative treatments. An increasing number of applications of these therapies are constantly being discovered. One cutting-edge technology is platelet-rich plasma therapy, and it has shown substantial promise as a therapeutic means to end the chronic back pain for some sufferers.
What is the science underlying PRP?
Blood is comprised of red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and a small percentage of platelets, which aid in blood clotting and play critical roles in healing. When people suffer injuries, their bodies send an additional supply of platelets to the injury sites. Platelets are rich in growth factors, so they stimulate the natural healing process of the body. They have an added role in recruiting reparative cells that accelerate the healing process. In PRP, platelet-rich plasma is isolated and concentrated before it is delivered directly to the site of the injury. Patients have plasma withdrawn from their blood.
What is the PRP process?
The PRP process is straightforward. Patients first undergo blood draws, and the blood is then placed in a centrifuge. The centrifuging process separates out the platelets from the red blood cells, and the red blood cells are discarded. The result is plasma that contains a high concentration of platelets. This solution is then injected into the area that surrounds the spinal nerves that are inflamed.
The process is fairly painless and takes approximately 30 minutes. In order to aid the injection’s accuracy, advanced image guidance is used for the plasma’s placement. People can expect to receive between two to six treatments that are spaced out over time. Many patients report experiencing significant improvements after receiving one or two injections.
How long before results are noticed?
After an injection of platelets, you may expect to notice that your pain is gradually subsiding while also noticing improvements in your functional ability. It is important that you avoid over-exerting yourself while the healing process occurs. You may need physical therapy in addition to PRP if your injuries are particularly serious.
Benefits of PRP
There are multiple benefits of choosing PRP, including the following:
- Ending chronic pain
- Experiencing accelerated and sustained natural healing
- Better affordability versus surgery
- No need for surgery
- Minimal scarring
- Avoiding steroid injections
- Improvements in the quality of your life
Many professional athletes are choosing PRP or stem cell therapies instead of steroid injections or surgeries, and many have reported that regenerative medicine has helped them to save their careers. PRP may similarly be a great treatment alternative for you, and you should discuss it as a treatment option with your doctor.
Are you suffering from chronic pain and need more information about regenerative medicine? Call the Spine Institute Northwest today at (206) 496-0630.