What Are PRP Injections and Are They Right for You?

Platelet-Rich Plasma is what PRP stands for (and it is also now as autologous conditioned plasma). It is a concentrate of platelet-rich plasma protein derived from white blood, and is extracted with the use of a centrifuge to remove the red blood cells.

The risk of infection is minimized due to the use of a patient’s own PRP being used.

Once extracted, the PRP is either used in concentrated form IF there is enough extracted. Or, as in my case, mixed with artificial plasma in order to deliver enough PRP to the injured area such as: a tendon, ligament, muscle or joint. In my case the SI joints and lower lumbar were to be injected.

Back in 2017, during the last follow-up appointment with Dr. Stoddard (who did my stem cell injections in my left hip), I was experiencing a significant amount of lower back pain, though no more hip pain.

Now knowing that it has been my lower back issues that have caused the wearing on my left hip, I wanted to now work at fixing this area too.

It was during this appointment that I asked for Dr. Stoddard advice and he suggested that given the extent of damage that has been done to my lower spinal discs; I might find that PRP injections would provide me with the best treatment.

While both PRP injections and stem cell injections can be used to accomplish similar goals, PRP is not cell therapy. It is a separate option of treatment that is apparently reserved specifically to treat severe, low grade injuries, like what I was experiencing.

Dr. Stoddard recommended that I seek an appointment with Dr. Ko, who is a well known PRP injection specialist in our area of Ontario, Canada.

My first appointment with Dr. Ko took place in early 2018, at his office in Markham, Ontario. During my first meeting with Dr. Ko, he shared so much helpful information regarding this form of treatment, and that certainly impressed me, as I am not used to doctors sharing information like this. I do believe that Dr. Ko left NOTHING out and he never candy-coated the treatment either, which I truly appreciated.

Dr. Stoddard certainly did recommend a GREAT doctor when he suggested I seek Dr. Ko for PRP treatments.

On that same day, Dr. Ko had his nurse draw blood from me in order for it to be tested, to see if I would be a good candidate for the PRP injections, and he advised me to start meeting with a Dr. Lawson who is a chiropractor with an office in Unionville, Ontario.

A while later (I’ve forgotten actually how long I had to wait for those blood test results) I learned that I have all 3 strains of what is known as the EB virus.

And… as I did learn during my meeting with Dr. Ko, the only patient to have suffered ANY ill side-effects from the PRP injections, had all 3 strains of this virus, making it a for sure “thing” that must have caused the side-effects this patient was said to have suffered with, as all other issues were ruled out during their investigation.

This made it so that I was deemed NOT a good candidate for PRP injections by Dr. Ko, who then suggested other forms of treatment. Once Dr. Ko described those other forms, I KNEW there was no way I would EVER be able to tolerate such a treatment as those. For me, it was to be PRP or nothing.

Upon learning of this issue, Dr. Lawson recommended that I meet with a Dr. Jacobson who practices out of a clinic on Front Street, in Toronto, Ontario. This doctor explained to me why he would need to do his OWN testing and, of course, I would need to pay for those tests as they would be beyond what OHIP would cover… which was fine by me.

All I want is to reduce the level of lower back pain I am suffering with as much as I possibly can. Heck, I could no longer take my dogs for their morning walks. Chloe and I used to walk around the park across the street from our home, and then Simona and I would walk around 2 city blocks. That WAS our daily routine.

By 2018, I had to drop out of my volunteering at the Hillsdale nursing home with my little therapy dog Chloe, for the same reason. I could no longer walk comfortably for any distance anymore.

Dr. Jacobson’s blood test results only served further proof that there is NO mistaking that all 3 strains of the EB virus are present in my blood.

This I felt is really weird, because I have NEVER had mono, though I was once present in a trailer during a hot summer’s day, when a teenager I was visiting was down with mono herself. That is the ONLY time that I am aware of ANYONE having mono that I ever was around.

Personally, I have NEVER been sick with mono at any time past or present… so… go figure… right?

After having been treated by Dr. Jacobson for a little shy of a year, he recommended to Dr. Ko that he felt certain that I would be a good candidate for the PRP injections.

However, it took several months after that before I finally was able to reach Dr. Ko and coax him into at least letting me try. I even suggested that I was willing to SIGN something to make it legal for him should ANYTHING happen to me from having taken the treatment.

Yes, the level of back pain was THAT intense that I truly felt those injections were my best bet.

Well, because it took me so long to get in touch with Dr. Ko in early 2019, by the time I got back in front of Dr. Lawson and he and Dr. Ko were able to converse… it was far too late for me to start the testing they wanted to schedule to start in November 2019.

“Why is November too late in the year?”, you ask.

Because Canadian winters are sooooo nasty to drive in, I refuse to leave the city during winters. And, due to never knowing for certain WHEN our first snow fall will happen… well… when Dr. Lawson suggested that I start the tests that late… in which I would need to set aside four consecutive weeks, where I would have injections done ONCE a week for the four weeks to see where the PRP injections would need to go… I said… noper!

November was far too close to our first snowfall and I do NOT drive to any appointments out of the city, so there is no use in my setting up four consecutive appointments THAT late in the year, when I don’t even know if I can attend all four or not.

So, I suggested we target to start the testing in EARLY 2020. I know… I know… hang in there though… okay.

Oh yeah… and look what happened on November 11, 2019… well, the video below will show you how it all started in the morning of that day… and YES, I was forced to shovel out my driveway the next morning.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Canada… but I do NOT like our winters. Snow and I do NOT get along… never have… never will. LOL!

Fast forwarding to 2020… I FINALLY got to meet with Dr. Lawson on the 15th of June. Thankfully, the pandemic lockdown did not get extended any further than it did.

Then the four consecutive weeks worth of testing was scheduled to begin on the 30th of June with Dr. James C. Brown doing the tests at the Interventional Pain Specialist clinic in Concord. Or Vaughn, as the large sign out front stated, so whichever address you would like to believe (they are on the border and there is LOTS of confusion with the address)?

However, due to much needed vacationing time for Dr. Fernando Gonzalez Martinez (at the same pain clinic as Dr. Brown), all August PRP injection treatments were cancelled and put off until September. My treatments did NOT start until the 16th of September.

On that morning, I finally got to have enough blood drawn from me for them to get enough PRP to start my treatment.

BUT, the PRP was soooo little (dang genes!) that artificial plasma had to be added to my PRP in order to deliver enough of MY PRP to my SI joints… twice.

Topical freezing was done on my skin and lower muscle before the needle was pushed all the way into the SI joint, to deliver the PRP injections. When the four areas (2 in each SI joint) were completed and I got off the table, I was shocked at how easy it was for me to walk… nearly pain free.

Then I remembered that the area was frozen prior to EACH injection, so it may have been that temporary freezing that gave me the level of comfort that I was experiencing. Of that I am not sure.

Walking back out to my friend’s truck and getting in was much easier for me when stepping up into the cab from the sidewalk. I even shocked him when he saw how easy it seemed to be for me, getting in. And I laughed explaining that even I was shocked.

Especially knowing how painful the walk home from my stem cell injections it was for me back two years ago, when I had my left hip treated.

On the 17th of September, I made the following note:

screen print of a note I made to myself in Notepad, on 17 Sep 2020

Yes, you did read correctly.

The testing irritated the arthritis in the SI and lower back joints by the 3rd test and I asked Dr. Brown why. His being so young, all he could think of was that perhaps I did too much of something when feeling so good for the first time in years, after the 3rd testing.

At that time, I bought that explanation.

However, after the 4th test, the level of pain I was experiencing was so bad that I tried to reach Dr. Lawson and could not. So, I spoke with another close friend who has a medical degree and quizzed that person as to what was going on to cause me THIS much pain.

That is when I learned that the 2 different medical solutions that were used in the tests were NOT likely to be the cause of this pain, but rather the testing irritating the arthritis itself… which, once I thought that over, it seemed to be the most logical explanation.

NOTE: You may experience an increase in your level of pain once you have completed the 4 consecutive testing appointments.

So now, let me tell you a little bit about the procedure that I went through… for when Dr. Brown was doing the testing, followed by Dr. Gonzalez who did the actual PRP injections in my SI joints.

The piece of equipment they both used is called a fluoroscope, which is an instrument with a fluorescent screen that is used for viewing an X-ray image without taking and developing any film. This equipment is used by the doctors to guide the needles into the actual areas needing the injections.

If you would like to see a photograph of the fluoroscope (as I could not include it here), please visit https://tipsmed.com/ and in their header image, on the left, you will see what looks like a rather large, white can-shaped object hanging over a table with a pillow. That large white can-shaped object is the fluoroscope.

In my case, when doing the PRP injections, the SI joints were injected.

Florida suregery consultant's website image depicting the SI joint

In preparation for the PRP injections, I was seen by Dr. Lawson on the 10th of August, in Unionville.

During that appointment, he mentioned, “…IF enough PRP can be extracted that is.” And that kept repeating in my mind, which got me to thinking and wondering if there are foods that could help me to increase the platelets in my blood.

So, back to my office I went and started Google searching for them.

According to NDTV Food, there are 7 foods to increase blood platelets.

  • Carrots, pumpkin, kale and sweet potatoes – Vitamin A
  • Orange juice, spinach, asparagus and leafy greens – Folate
  • Eggs, liver, meat, cabbage, parsley, green leafy veggies – Vitamin K
  • Eggs, milk, and cheese – Vitamin B-12
  • Pumpkin seeds, pomegranate, lentils and leafy greens – Iron
  • Mangoes, broccoli, pineapple, Brussel sprouts, tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflower, etc – Vitamin C
  • Wheat grass with a drop of lemon juice

From the list that I found at the time I did my actual internet search; I quickly wrote the following foods:

  • Plain yogurt – Greek noted
  • Strawberries
  • Red + green bell peppers
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Oranges and grapefruits
  • Broccoli
  • Dark leafy green veggies such as spinach and Brussels sprouts
  • Beef liver
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Rice
  • Yeast
  • Eggs
  • Clams, trout, salmon
  • Almond milk

Having also read of warnings about staying away from sugar, aspartame, etc… so I was VERY careful only to use the natural honey I buy from a local Bee Keeper.

So, off to my local Superstore I went, to purchase all but the red bell peppers (I prefer the green). Though I could NOT find black-eyed peas, nor yeast, and the oranges and grapefruit were NOT from the USA, so I could not purchase those.

The spinach, broccoli, leafy lettuce, Brussels sprouts along with NoName chicken broth were put into a Magic Bullet cup and microwaved (with a saucer on top to prevent spitting) for 3 full minutes. Once cooled for one minute and removed from the microwave, I added Almond milk and then blended the mixture until it was purée.

Poured into a large mug usually used for chicken soup, I would drink that tasty mixture for one of my daily meals.

Later on, the same day I would use 3 heaping tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt, about 1 cup of water, one Kiwi peeled and chopped into pieces, along with strawberries that I had cleaned, cut up an froze on a cookie sheet so they wouldn’t spoil. I’d fill my cup as full as I could with chopped pieces of frozen strawberries and then blend THAT mixture on my Magic Bullet and drink it as a smoothie. Mmmm-mmmm good!

The Bell peppers… I cleaned up, sliced up and ate like snacks. Love the crunching and taste.

However, preparing the beef liver was another topic.

It was horrible, having to remove all those… holes and the strong outer casing known a connective tissue that the liver puts in place to protect itself. Ewwwww… yuck.

It took me nearly 2 hours cleaning that up and frying it in butter (you betchya’, butter!). I added creamed corn over top of a serving of it in order to make it more palatable and so that I would swallow it, and to help ensure it would stay down.

Once the liver was used up, I filled the two remaining days with canned red salmon that I had purchased from Costco. After cleaning THAT up from fish skin… I added gherkin pickle juice and sweet relish to it, and mixed it all up together well. That’s how I always eat red salmon.

The strawberry smoothy I’d make as my desert.

However, on the 16th of September, as I entered the room to receive my PRP injections, I was sadly disappointed when shown the mere, maybe ½ inch in a regular syringe that my extracted PRP provided the doctor with for my injections.

REALLY… and, after ALL that blood having been removed? Dang!

Naturally, I told the doctor that I wasted my time forcing myself to stick to only foods that would assist in increasing my platelet count. I was so disappointed But, Dr. Gonzalez then said that it all depends on your genes. 🙁

Also… that is why I have to go in for a SECOND set of injections. Thankfully, the doctor decided to treat the worst area that was causing my pain, first… my SI joints.

Next month, I will be providing a report on the PRP injections that I receive on the 21 of October. By the time THAT post goes live on 16th of November 2020, I should know enough information to share with you as to my results from THAT treatment.

Once the 30 days have gone by, I will come back to THAT post and update it with my final comments so that should you be forced to decide on PRP injection therapy and find this post online, you will have full disclosure on my treatment to help you make your decision.

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platelet-rich_plasma

https://www.floridasurgeryconsultants.com/conditions/spine/sacroiliac-joint-pain/

https://thrivemdclinic.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-stem-cell-therapy-vs-prp/

https://www.hss.edu/condition-list_prp-injections.asp

Credit for Header: image by Sentryair.com

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Trish

Given my passion for genealogy, is it any wonder that I eventually wanted to publish my work? Learning to use a personal computer was a natural step once I was introduced it in the 1990s. Then the internet offered a second means to "publish" and now, here I am with a personal blog.

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