Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints among men and women, and the bad news is, it can get worse as we get older. Pain in the lower back can have different causes, but a lot of lower back pain is related to problems with the cushiony discs that separate each pair of spine bones (vertebrae). In fact, it’s disc problems that cause sciatica, one of the most common types of lower back pain.
Injections have been used for many years to reduce inflammation around slipped or herniated discs in the lower back, and until recently, those injections have contained steroids or other medications to relieve pain and swelling. More recently, researchers have begun exploring natural alternatives to these drugs, including platelet-rich plasma, or PRP. Because PRP is derived from your own blood, it doesn’t come with the same risks as steroids and other medicines. Plus, while steroid injections may relieve the symptoms of low back pain, PRP injections can actually help repair the damage that’s causing painful symptoms in the first place. Here’s how PRP injections work to treat pain in the lower back.
As its name implies, platelet-rich plasma contains a high concentration of platelets, one of the essential “building blocks” of blood. Platelets contain chemicals called growth factors, which play a really big role in healing. They also contain special proteins that signal stem cells in the area surrounding a wound, prompting those cells to move into the treatment area. Together, growth factors and signaling proteins work to generate new, healthy tissue that’s used to repair damaged tissue.
These wound-healing processes occur naturally, but the problem is, they don’t always occur right where we need them or at the intensity that’s necessary for optimal repair. By injecting PRP directly into the lower back, those growth factors and proteins are concentrated right where they need to be, so they can begin healing and repairing damaged areas to relieve pain and restore normal function in the spine.
PRP treatment starts with a small sample of your own blood that’s usually taken from your arm. A machine separates the components of your blood so the platelets can be concentrated. That concentration is then reintroduced to the plasma (liquid) component of your blood, and the resulting mixture is placed into a syringe. Dr. Regan injects the PRP solution into the site of injury using a special X-ray to ensure the injection is made with pinpoint accuracy. Using an X-ray enables Dr. Regan to inject the PRP solution where it’s needed most so patients get the most benefit from their treatment.
After PRP injections, you'll probably have some soreness in the injection site. Some patients report soreness that lasts a day while others say it can last for about a week. Because PRP works by stimulating natural healing responses, it can take a few weeks until you notice the results of your treatment. PRP injections typically are used with other treatments like physical therapy, or they may be used when other types of injections haven't been effective in providing relief.
PRP can be very effective in treating some types of low back pain, including back pain caused by degenerative disc disease, one of the most common causes of low back pain. Still, PRP injections aren't ideal for all types of low back pain. At Spine Group Beverly Hills, Dr. Regan performs a thorough evaluation and examination of every patient to ensure he recommends the solution that's most likely to provide relief. No matter what's causing your lower back pain, there's a treatment that can help you feel better. To learn more about PRP and other treatments that could help relieve your low back pain, book an appointment online today.