Regenerative Approaches for Joint HealthOct 01, 2020 08:42AM ● By Julie Peterson
Prolotherapy, short for proliferative therapy, is a minimally invasive, natural treatment that can work on any joint. The regenerative injection therapy, which relieves pain by strengthening ligaments and tendons supporting the joint, involves the injection of a dextrose solution directly into the affected area. The body’s inflammation response kicks in, resulting in production of collagen and regrowth of new fibers in ligaments and tendons.
Prolotherapy has been used on animals and people for hundreds of years. Modern regenerative medicine has been shown in scientific studies to facilitate the repair and regrowth of connective tissue, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and other joint-stabilizing structures. It can even help prevent surgery to repair joint injuries or age-related wear and tear. Although the injected solution varies according to the problem with the joint, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is coming to the forefront as having the least risk and greatest benefit because it is derived from the patient’s own blood.
“Blood is drawn and then spun in a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets. The platelet concentrate…is then injected into the desired joint or soft tissue using ultrasound guidance,” says Dr. Alita Sikora, MD, of Sikora Integrative Medicine in Vero Beach. “The platelets actually recruit stem cells into the target tissue and help them differentiate and proliferate and heal tissue.”
In essence, PRP injections deliver a personal nutrient-dense solution to the exact site of injury, creating a healing environment so the body can get well. It sounds simple enough, but the science behind it is complex and fascinating.
“Plasma is the liquid part of our blood that is made up of water, proteins, electrolytes, platelets, hormones and enzymes…important cellular food,” says Dr. David Daly, DC, RMA, of Daly Integrated Medical Group in Titusville. “Plasma's main role is to deliver nutrients to any part of the body that needs help, aiding in the process of replacing old cells, repairing damaged cells and regenerating new ones.”
The benefits of PRP therapy include accelerated tissue healing, improved musculoskeletal and joint health and reduced inflammation. The procedure also comes with minimal downtime, cost and risk, as compared with surgery.
Patients often turn to PRP after trying other therapies that simply did not provide lasting relief from pain or recovery from injury. Studies have shown the beneficial effects of PRP for chronic non-healing tendon injuries and cartilage degeneration.
“When healing takes place with a PRP treatment, your body is making a lasting positive therapeutic change,” says Daly. “Modalities such as pain meds, anti-inflammatories, prednisone, cortisone injections may help decrease the inflammation, but do not promote a healing effect to tissues.”
Sikora agrees that failed therapies such as steroid injections, physical therapy and NSAIDS often lead people to seek PRP. “I have also injected patients who have had surgery already such as a rotator cuff tear and want to use PRP to enhance the postsurgical healing,” Sikora says. “Other modalities such as ultrasound, laser and physical therapy can be used after PRP injection to maximize the healing.”
While perhaps not an everyday term, PRP is already commonly used in orthopedics, sports medicine, dentistry, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, urology and cosmetic and cardiothoracic surgery and has been around since the 1980s. It is often advised for rotator cuff injuries, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, tennis elbow, osteoarthritis and more.
“I have personally used PRP treatments to help heal my torn meniscus in my right and left knee,” says Daly. When the doctors providing a treatment are healing themselves with the same, that seems a good indicator that the therapy is top notch.
Watch our video podcast interviews with Dr. Daly and Dr. Sikora to learn more about how PRP can assist with healing injuries, osteoarthritis, joints, and more.
To connect with the practitioners in this article, click on their business name to learn more.
Dr. Daly shares the benefits of a Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment that is gaining popularity and going mainstream. Read More »
Dr. Alita Sikora, MD, Sikora Integrated Medicine, shares how doctors are using Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) to help heal musculoskeletal injuries, arthritis, and other conditions. Read More »