Experimental treatment offers relief from chronic muscle, joint pain

Living with chronic pain can be debilitating. Finding relief can be frustrating.

But there’s a new treatment available that’s taking the bull or in this case, the pain, by the horns.

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry recently returned the lineup with a record-breaking performance less than three weeks after suffering a knee sprain. The two-time NBA MVP was back in action thanks to an experimental treatment that many other professional athletes have turned to.

“When you hear about Kobe Bryant or Maria Sharapova getting these injections, these blood injections, really what they’re getting are these platelets which are being concentrated or that’s more commonly known as PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma),” explained Dr. Dwight Lin, Queens Medical Center.

PRP patient Lawrence Tannenbaum isn’t an NBA star but he understands pain. “It was to the point where I couldn’t sleep,” he said. “I couldn’t really function on a day-to-day basis.”

Like Curry, Kobe and Sharapova, Tannenbaum has found relief with PRP.

“Dr. Lin gave that back to me with the PRP as well as my ability to coach baseball,” he said.

PRP is created from blood that’s drawn and placed in a centrifuge that spins at high speeds, separating the platelets from the other components. The process produces higher concentrations of platelets which are then injected into and around the point of injury.

“What we’re trying to do is rekindle or charge up the body’s own healing process,” Lin said.

PRP is used to treat osteoarthritis, rotator cuff issues, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, and even ACL injuries and sprains.

“Now instead of watching or waiting for surgery, with the biologics, we’ve got a way to help people recover range of motion, get their strength, get their tolerance for activities back by trying to put something that’s going to promote a healthier joint,” Lin said.

Lin says PRP treatment is replacing older techniques of hiding pain, but “it’s not a magical cure. We’re still looking at what’s the best concentration of these platelets.”

“You just get used to dealing with it. It’s part of what you deal with,” said PRP patient Sharon Smith. “But to not have the pain, and there’s no clicking in my shoulder. There’s nothing! Without surgery, it was great.”

Great but is it safe? On Thursday, we’ll explore some of the concerns about the treatment and the costs.

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