Sep 15, 2021 Dr. Corey Reeves

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) for Back Pain: An Emerging Pain Relief Therapy

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) has more recently been identified as an accepted treatment for back pain, joint pain, tendonitis, and other musculoskeletal syndromes. The majority of conditions originally treated with PRP were peripheral joints and tendons, such as knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows. Research into the use of PRP for spine-related conditions has shown promising results. But, before we expand upon this, let’s learn more about PRP.


About Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a regenerative medicine therapy, which “seeks to replace tissue or organs that have been damaged by disease, trauma, or congenital issues, vs. the current clinical strategy that focuses primarily on treating the symptoms.” This therapy first began widespread use in athletes 10-15 years ago. The injection is intended to treat a variety of arthritic joint and tendon problems. 


So, How Does It Work?

Platelet rich plasma is derived from each patient's blood. A sample of blood is drawn when a patient arrives at the clinic. This sample is centrifuged or spun down so that the different layers are separated. The platelet layer is identified and isolated. This platelet-rich layer is rich with growth factors that accelerate the body's healing process. Then the PRP is typically injected near or in the area of degeneration.


Using Platelet Rich Plasma for Back Pain and More 

While the providers at Excel Pain and Spine are excited to introduce this treatment modality into our list of provided pain and injury solutions to help patients get the relief they need, spine pain has multiple etiologies. PRP is not indicated for every type of pain in the spine; however, the list of treated conditions is growing. Schedule your appointment today to discuss your options.

Some areas where PRP can be a treatment option to consider with your healthcare provider are included below.


Sacroiliac Pain, Sacroiliitis, or Sacroiliac Dysfunction

The sacroiliac joint or SI joint is a small joint that connects your spine, pelvis, and hips. This joint, similar to any joint in the body, can become inflamed or arthritic. Sacroiliac joint injections treat chronic lower back pain, hip pain, buttock pain, and sacroiliitis.

A recent study by Ko et al. compared sacroiliac joint injections with steroid medication to sacroiliac joint injections with PRP.  At 3 months, the two groups were compared: 25% of the steroid group still had pain relief, and 90% had relief in the PRP group. The study demonstrated that PRP injection is an effective treatment modality in low back pain involving the sacroiliac joint (Citation: Ko GD, Mindra S, Lawson GE, Whitmore S, Arseneau L. Case series of ultrasound-guided platelet-rich plasma injections for sacroiliac joint dysfunction. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2017;30(2):363-370. doi: 10.3233/BMR-160734. PMID: 27392848.)


Facet Joint Pain, Spondylosis, Spinal Arthritis

Back pain commonly results from degeneration within the facet joints. Back pain is also known as back arthritis, spondylosis, and facet joint arthropathy. This pain is often felt on either side of the spine at the affected levels and results in pain patterns along the hips, thighs, and legs. The pain is made worse with the extension of the spine and rotating side to side. Facet joint injections and/or radiofrequency ablation have been the traditionally preferred treatment method for this pain.

The use of PRP to treat facet joint pain has gained exposure and clinical use as more data is revealed. A study comparing PRP to intra-articular facet injection with steroids demonstrated PRP not only to be safe but resulted in a longer duration of pain relief.  (Citation: Wu J, Zhou J, Liu C, Zhang J, Xiong W, Lv Y, Liu R, Wang R, Du Z, Zhang G, Liu Q. A Prospective Study Comparing Platelet-Rich Plasma and Local Anesthetic (LA)/Corticosteroid in Intra-Articular Injection for the Treatment of Lumbar Facet Joint Syndrome. Pain Pract. 2017 Sep;17(7):914-924. doi: 10.1111/papr.12544. Epub 2017 Feb 22. PMID: 27989008.)


Degenerative Disc Disease, Disc herniations, or Bulging Disc

The intervertebral disc is a structure particularly at risk for damage and injury. The disc is put under large forces during the movement and bending of the spine. The disc has poor blood flow and, as a result, limited ability to heal quickly after injury. Intervertebral discs can degenerate over time, resulting in a change of spinal mechanics and pain.

There is a substantial amount of research pending regarding PRP and its use for degenerative disk disease. The initial studies for the use of PRP for disk disease are promising to demonstrate a decrease in back pain and an improvement in function. 


Let’s Discuss if PRP Is Right for You

So, now that you know all about PRP and the research supporting it as a therapy for back pain and spine-related conditions, let’s figure out if it is an option for YOUR specific situation. If you would like to request an expedited visit with our providers, please click here.

Published by Dr. Corey Reeves September 15, 2021