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Common Joint Pain Treatment May Do More Harm than Good

by | Sep 9, 2022

Last updated on March 28th, 2024 at 03:03 pm

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PRP … a Better Treatment for Joint Pain

How often have you heard a family member or friend complain about pain in their knee or another joint? They then go to the doctor, desperate for the relief found in what they believe is the “cure-all”—a cortisone shot into the joint. And suddenly, they think all is well in the world. But is it?

According to the Arthritis Foundation, an estimated 30 million Americans have osteoarthritis. A chronic condition, osteoarthritis impacts the joints with cartilage loss, inflammation, swelling, and pain. And one of the most common therapies utilized by those suffering is a corticosteroid injection, like cortisone. In fact, in one study of more than 16,500 patients who underwent knee or hip replacement therapy, half had received corticosteroid injections within the prior two years.

While corticosteroid injections are a common therapy for joint pain due to their providing immediate (but temporary) relief of pain and inflammation and their coverage by most insurance policies, some studies over the past several years are showing they may be doing more harm than good. Based on the outcomes of 459 injections, published research has identified accelerated osteoarthritis progression. And this acceleration often results in the inevitable need for joint replacement surgery.

According to Dr. Ali Guermazi, a professor of radiology at the Boston University School of Medicine, “There is some evidence that corticosteroid injections, which typically are combined with an anesthetic, can be toxic to cartilage, and more studies are needed to understand their effects and clarify their benefits and risks.” 

An Alternative Found in Platelet Rich Plasma

A better approach for osteoarthritis is the Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) method for treating the root cause of the condition, rather than merely masking the symptoms, like corticosteroid injections do. PRP is an advanced form of non-surgical, regenerative joint injection therapy, using the growth factors and proteins found in the platelets of blood. Through PRP, inflammation can be regulated, a new blood supply can be promoted, new cellular growth can be induced, and local stem cells are signaled to repair damaged tissues, ligaments, tendons, and joints. In fact, there are numerous studies finding that for the nonsurgical treatment of osteoarthritis, PRP injections could significantly reduce patients’ early pain and improve function.

At NW Regen, our PRP procedures begin with a simple blood draw. We then prepare the patient for the injections with a small local anesthetic at the skin level. The PRP injection is administered directly to the area of pain to promote repair and remodeling. Each step is carefully administered under guided imaging. This series of injections with the proper dosing (minimum of 60cc whole blood for a large joint, combined counting platelets using our in-house hemocytometer to ensure consistency and minimum therapeutic dosing) can create lasting positive change in joints.

Corticosteroid injections, with their inherent risks, should not be the default pain relief approach for osteoarthritis. PRP is an effective and much safer, faster alternative. It reduces swelling, lubricates the joints, and helps to regenerate tissue, all of which alleviate pain at the source, rather than masking the resulting symptoms. PRP can help people heal faster and get them up and moving much quicker than any other solution.

Patients strive for better overall health to improve the quality of their lives, and many of them are exploring the viability of using more natural, non-surgical methods, including PRP. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, by using the body’s own natural healing processes to repair damaged tissues, this treatment doesn’t merely alleviate symptoms, but goes straight to the source of the pain.

At Northwest Regen, we are one of the leading experts in PRP therapy in the Portland community. Our goal is always to achieve the highest quality treatment, with the least amount of discomfort, and the best possible outcomes. Having the ability to effectively perform natural, non-surgical treatments, such as PRP, is a significant part of our tailored approach. Contact us to learn more about PRP today.

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