by Dr. Joseph Wilson
Pain comes in many different forms and intensities. Some of us have old injuries from playing sports when we were younger. Some have old high school or college trauma and injuries. And some have that everyday wear and tear on the joint cartilage called arthritis. Our day-to-day and work activities sometimes aggravate these conditions, and we get flare-ups. I have experienced all of the above.
With an injury or trauma (mainly to the soft tissue), damage can take place in a muscle, ligament or joint and something triggers an inflammatory response. Usually, swelling starts then the pain sets in. Later, the area becomes very painful, is hot and red. Then you get a restrictive type of movement or stiffness sets into the muscle ligament or joint. Sometimes an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication will help temporarily to relieve the symptoms. Over weeks or months, if the symptoms are not resolving and become progressive, you may visit a local physician and get a little stronger anti-inflammatory or steroid. This type of treatment does not help in the healing process.
Eventually, through time (sometimes months or years) we learn to adapt and modify our activities to avoid triggering the pain. Usually, we don’t even realize we are doing this.
In everyday life, an incident of trauma or injury to the muscle, ligament or joint just happens. Approximately two years ago while walking out of a garage, I turned to the right and stepped on some ice. My feet flew out from underneath me, and I fell straight back – turning slightly to the right, landing on my right elbow. My elbow jammed up into my shoulder, and I felt a rip. The MRI showed that I had ripped the cartilage off the top of the shoulder. It was extremely painful, to the point where I could not even brush my teeth or comb my hair. I tried taking inflammatory medication and different forms of therapy, thinking it would slowly heal. My orthopedic surgeon friends said I needed surgery to sew and repair the cartilage that had been torn loose. I was very skeptical about the procedure, having seen numerous friends and patients go through this process. They all had severe complications. Some did not heal and wished they had never gone through the surgery.
I researched different types of treatments and discovered a procedure called PRP (platelet rich plasma). Blood is extracted from you, then spun – separating the yellow and white blood cells. The fluid is injected back into the injury site. This substance is rich in platelets and Cellular Regenerative Medicine and targets the inflammation, helping stimulate repair, helping to rebuild the soft tissue and cartilage.
It’s now been approximately a year and a half since having three injections of PRP into my right shoulder. I’m pretty much pain-free and have full use of my arm. I’m happily back at my workouts. I also shoot a bow for recreation and hunting and love being able to shoot without severe pain or discomfort. My right shoulder is actually better than my left! For four years in high school and college, I played sports and acquired multiple traumas to my shoulder and knee joints. I am currently undergoing injections into my knees and shoulders as a preventative procedure. I have had knee surgery in the past with a meniscus removed. Even though I don’t have any knee pain, I feel some clicking and grinding, typically when walking a lot. The PRP injections have defiantly reduced the amount of unwelcome sound effects. The matrix is forming, the cartilage is regenerating and repairing itself.