According to a report published by the CDC last year, nearly one in four Americans has joint pain. Usually a result of orthopedic degeneration (arthritis), joint pain not only makes it physically difficult for people to move, it can diminish quality of life as they struggle with the psychological effects of living with chronic pain.
Depending on the severity of the condition, there are several treatments physicians can use to help treat joint pain. For the most severe cases, surgery is often needed, but in other instances, doctors might prescribe rest and/or physical therapy. Of course, they usually also suggest medication; in addition to over-the-counter pain relievers and analgesic creams, there are more powerful drugs (like steroids), which can be used to reduce inflammation and slow further joint damage. Cortisone shots, in particular, are frequently given to joint pain sufferers since they provide a strong, anti-inflammatory medication, along with a local anesthetic, that can reduce swelling in the joint and, thus, ease a patient’s pain for several months. Unfortunately, however, cortisone and other steroid medications have possible side effects that limit the number of doses a patient can receive in any one year. The good news is that there are alternatives to cortisone shots that have the potential to work even better. Take a look at these exciting options:
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Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
Platelets are small, disk-shaped cells in our blood. They carry growth factors, proteins and cytokines that work to heal tissue damage when needed, making them an important part of our body’s natural immune response. PRP therapy is simply the process of injecting blood that has been centrifuged to remove the red cells and the majority of white blood cells leaving plasma with an abundance of platelets to be injected into a patient. It works like this: a doctor draws blood from a patient’s own body, runs it through a centrifuge to isolate the platelet rich portion of the plasma and then injects this concentrated solution of platelets (possibly combined with other biologics) back into the patient at the point of his or her joint issue. Research indicates that platelet rich plasma can stimulate the body to increase its rate of recovery. This can be an excellent choice in areas of acute damage, but much less so in chronic conditions like arthritis.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is another regenerative therapy that uses the body’s own resources to facilitate cellular repair but, in this case, instead of harvesting platelets from a patient, the physician removes a cache of stem cells. Stem cells exist normally in all bodies, both during gestational development, as well as following birth. However, only the stem cells that exist in our adult bodies are used for orthopedic regenerative treatments.
Once removed from stores across the patient’s body (usually in his or her bone marrow and/or fat tissue), the stem cells are consolidated and often combined with PRP or Alpha 2 macroglobulin to create a concentrated aspirate that is then injected back into the patient’s damaged joint. Like research showing the value of platelets in cellular regeneration, studies demonstrate that stem cells have the power to initiate cell differentiation and proliferation and, thus, restore or replace cells helping to reduce pain and improve function.
Want to Learn More About Alternatives to Cortisone Shots?
Alternatives to cortisone shots exist, offering patients the potential for better, more long-lasting pain relief than traditional treatments. Regenerative procedures can address the root cause of degenerative joint issues, rather than simply reducing inflammation. Both platelets and stem cells help initiate cellular repair; they possess the power to help repair joint damage, not simply just alleviate pain symptoms. Regenerative therapies also have fewer side effects than other types of treatments, far less than the risks associated with corticosteroids, for example, which include issues like nerve damage, bone death, tissue weakening and more! And finally, while it might seem like PRP and stem cell therapies are relatively new procedures, they’ve actually been studied and used for therapeutic purposes since the 1950s and 60s! Both are tested, safe and proven to work in many cases. To learn more about possible alternatives to cortisone shots that could be available to you or a loved one, please contact ThriveMD.