Pain—you know the feeling. Maybe you’ve been dealing with its nagging effects for a while now. Or perhaps you’ve just experienced an injury while participating in your favorite hobby. Either way, joint, muscular, or nerve pain can leave you wondering what you can do to find healing and relief. After all, you don’t want to sit long on the sidelines. You’d instead get back in the game and enjoy what you love most.
In your search for help to treat your orthopedic injury, you’ve likely uncovered two different options: corticosteroids (or cortisone injections) and PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma). Both are widely used in relieving pain associated with injuries, yet it’s clear that one—PRP therapy—provides better long-term results. Before you make a decision on your treatment options, read on to discover why PRP therapy could be your best choice for lasting recovery.
Defining Corticosteroids and PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma)
Before we share why PRP is the better option for healing your pain, it’s vital we define your two possibilities clearly. So what exactly are corticosteroids? And how does PRP work?
A corticosteroid is a man-made drug known for its anti-inflammatory properties. This type of steroid is designed to resemble cortisol, a substance produced in your adrenal glands. Corticosteroids are provided to you through a cortisone injection, with the steroids injected directly into the injured area of the body experiencing inflammation. As a result, you may experience rapid pain relief and reduced swelling—for a period of time. And then there typically is an exacerbation of pain again. Why? Because the steroids actually damage the tissue.
On the other hand, PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) uses your body’s own natural healing mechanisms to supercharge the recovery process. Upon drawing your own blood, your blood’s platelets are concentrated to 4-5 times the standard amount. Containing healing proteins, these platelets are then released directly to the injured area of your body through a PRP injection. As a result, PRP therapy provides lasting pain relief and helps your orthopedic injury heal not only properly, but quickly.
Now that you have an understanding of these two methods for relieving your pain, what makes PRP so much better than corticosteroids?
4 Reasons to Choose PRP Over Corticosteroids
1. PRP therapy provides lasting pain relief
A major deterrent to using corticosteroids is that while they may provide rapid pain relief, the relief is only temporary. It’s just a quick fix that doesn’t address the root of your problem. Before too long, you’re experiencing the same pain again and back to where you started originally. While you can take additional cortisone injections to restore pain relief, your doctor will actually limit the number of shots you can take over time due to side effects (more on that later).
However, PRP therapy provides long-term healing to your body that lasts. Doesn’t that sound better? Studies have shown in real-time how PRP provides long-term pain relief, whereas corticosteroids don’t, because PRP therapy works to provide healing as well as relief.
One study showed that after 6 months, the pain relief for those who had received cortisone injections had already plateaued. However, those who received PRP injections were experiencing continually improving relief and better function. Another study even discovered that after two years, patients who’d received PRP therapy had not experienced any relief regression!
2. PRP therapy helps heal your injury (unlike corticosteroids)
When you’ve experienced an orthopedic injury, you want it to heal, right? All the more reason to choose PRP over corticosteroids. PRP is a type of regenerative medicine that actually helps your damaged tissues heal properly, which is why it’s able to provide long-term pain relief. In the long run, you’re able to move forward in life without the lingering effects of an injury.
Yet when it comes to corticosteroids, they don’t help your body heal at all. In fact, they are a deterrent to your long-term healing! We now know that inflammation can be a good thing, as it’s the natural process your body uses to heal its injuries. With corticosteroids being an anti-inflammatory drug, they prevent your body from doing what it requires to heal and damage the tissue. The more you take them, the more damage the tissue.
3. The negative side effects of corticosteroids
If you’re taking cortisone injections, your doctor must monitor your condition due to corticosteroids’ powerful potency. You’ll actually only be limited to a certain amount of injections due to their side effects. Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, corticosteroids cause deterioration in your cartilage, joints, tendons, and ligaments over time. Essentially, there is damage wherever you inject it. Does this sound like a good “healing” strategy?
Other potential side effects include joint infections at the injection site, skin damage, allergic reactions, and instances where the drug actually causes more pain instead. Comparing this to PRP, PRP injections provide minimal side effects—the main one being soreness at the injection site for a limited period of time.
4. Better long-term results (and potentially avoiding surgery)
While corticosteroids may give you momentary gratification, PRP therapy will provide you with much better long-term results. Instead of temporary relief, your injury can become completely healed. Some PRP patients have even delayed or avoided surgery altogether for their orthopedic injuries. Yet patients with cortisone injections often require surgery in the long run, as the damaged area of the body hasn’t been able to heal (or has deteriorated even more) due to corticosteroids.
Are you ready to move forward with a better option for your healing?
Between corticosteroids and PRP, the choice is clear—PRP Therapy is the best solution for your injury. At the Albano Clinic here in Utah, Dr. Joseph Albano and his team have helped patients just like you recover from their injuries and reclaim their lives (without needing surgery) with PRP.