Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment is a minimally invasive, cutting-edge therapy for treating musculoskeletal pain. It uses the body’s healing agents to reduce pain and inflammation. PRP can be used to treat a variety of issues, including those related to joints, muscles, and bones. It can also be used to treat spondylolisthesis; a condition in which one vertebra slips out of place and causes pain.
Spondylolisthesis is a common condition that affects between four and six percent of all children and five to 10 percent of adults, according to a study conducted by David Gendelberg, MD. The condition can cause pain in the lower back area and make it challenging to move around. The following is a breakdown of the spondylolisthesis subcategories, causes, risk factors, and symptoms:
Subcategories of Spondylolisthesis
The following are the most common types of spondylolisthesis:
- Dysplastic: This type of spondylolisthesis is caused by an abnormality in the development of the spine joints at birth. It is usually congenital and tends to be more common in children. Because the defect can weaken the facet joints, the vertebrae are more likely to be knocked out of alignment due to everyday movements.
- Isthmic: This type of spondylolisthesis is caused by a fracture in the pars interarticularis (a strip of bone connecting the vertebrae at the facet joints). This condition generally occurs in children between the ages of five and seven; however, it may not be diagnosed until adulthood after the joints have degenerated, resulting in spondylolisthesis.
- Degenerative: This type of spondylolisthesis is caused by the natural wear and tear of joints, making it a common result of osteoarthritis. It usually occurs in older individuals over 60 years old. Degenerative spondylolisthesis often results in additional symptoms, such as muscular weakness in the hamstrings.
- Traumatic: This type of spondylolisthesis is caused by an injury or trauma to the spine. For example, if you fall down the stairs and the impact of the ground knocks your vertebrae out of alignment.
- Pathologic: This type of spondylolisthesis is caused by a disease (such as Paget’s disease or osteomyelitis) or a tumor that weakens the points of attachment that hold together the vertebrae, making it more vulnerable to slipping out of place.
Common Causes And Risk Factors
Although one of the significant causes of spondylolisthesis is injury (it often occurs in athletes while playing physical sports), it’s important to note that the condition has a genetic component present in 15 to 69 percent of patients. In fact, many patients who believe they can trace their condition back to a traumatic injury may have a family history of the condition that could be just as likely to blame. Keeping this in mind, other risk factors for spondylolisthesis include the following:
- Injuries and trauma from accidents
- Abnormal wear and tear on the spinal bones
- Additional stress from sports and other strenuous activities
- Concurrent conditions such as arthritis and bone disease
- Prior damage from fractures, tumors, or bone abnormalities
Not everybody with spondylolisthesis will experience symptoms; in fact, many people go years without being diagnosed with the condition because they never experienced symptoms. With that in mind, the following are some of the most common symptoms associated with spondylolisthesis:
- Lower back pain
- Muscle tightness
- Pain and numbness in the thighs or buttocks
- Tenderness in the area of the dislocated vertebra
- Weakness in the legs
- Changes in posture and gait
Why Treatment Matters
If left untreated, spondylolisthesis can cause many issues that affect more than just back pain. Due to the misalignment of the spine, it can put pressure on nerves and cause neurological conditions, meaning the nerves don’t transmit properly. This can cause numbness, tingling, and weakness throughout the body– including in the legs and feet.
Furthermore, untreated spondylolisthesis can cause a person to lose their balance more easily and have difficulty walking. It can also lead to a decrease in bladder control. All of these issues can seriously impact your quality of life, making it vital to seek treatment as soon as possible.
PRP Injection For Spondylolisthesis: An Alternative To Surgery
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are a promising alternative to traditional surgery to treat spondylolisthesis. However, surgical procedures to correct the condition are often invasive and can cause additional damage to surrounding tissues. They’re incredibly risky because the spine needs to be manipulated for the vertebrae to be corrected. Not to mention that there’s always the risk of complications, such as infections, when it comes to surgery. Surgical procedures can result in long recovery times, can be incredibly expensive, and aren’t guaranteed success.
On the other hand, PRP injections are a minimally invasive procedure that can be used to treat spondylolisthesis and other back conditions. A high dose of PRP is injected directly into the affected area, which helps to promote the natural healing process.
How PRP Works
PRP is made from a sample of the patient’s own blood. It contains growth factors, proteins, and other substances that can promote healing and reduce inflammation. When PRP is injected into an area of tissue damage or injury, it triggers a cascade of repair processes in the body.
When treating spondylolisthesis, a higher dose of PRP is ideal because it contains a greater concentration of growth factors and proteins. This helps stimulate the body’s healing process while reducing inflammation around the area of injury. This increased dosage is also more likely to promote a longer-term solution as opposed to short-term relief of symptoms.
What The Research Says
Numerous studies have been done to research the effectiveness of high-dose PRP treatments as an alternative to surgery for treating spondylolisthesis. One recent study conducted in 2022 and led by Dr. Dalia Saif involved comparing a group of 100 patients with grade-1 degenerative spondylolisthesis. Half of the group underwent surgery, while the other half underwent three high-dose PRP injections into their facet-joint capsules. Both groups of patients were found to have improvements in pain and function. Those who underwent surgery have sustained results for nine months of the study period. In contrast, those who underwent PRP treatment sustained results for 12 months.
Not only did the PRP treatment yield effective results that lasted longer, but when comparing three injections to an invasive surgical procedure, PRP is a much safer and more convenient alternative.
What To Expect From High-Dose PRP Treatment
Depending on the diagnosis and the severity of the condition, a patient may need to undergo several PRP injections. Generally speaking, two to six injections are recommended, spaced one to two weeks apart. The following are the things you can expect during each part of the PRP treatment process:
- Preparation: Once you’ve scheduled your appointment, you’ll need to refrain from taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for at least two weeks before your PRP treatment. These NSAIDS include ibuprofen and aspirin. This can be difficult to do, especially if you take these medications as pain relief. However, their anti-inflammatory properties can be counterproductive. This is because the inflammation can provoke the body to heal, which means that the PRP injections are more likely to be effective within a shorter period.
- Procedure: The treatment begins by drawing blood from your arm. The PRP in your blood will then be separated and injected back into your body at the site of the injury. Using ultrasound guidance, the PRP will be injected into the proper ligaments, tendons, and joints. The entire procedure shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.
- Post-Treatment: You should avoid washing or using lotions on the area where the PRP was injected for at least 48 hours. Additionally, if the PRP treatment was injected into your tendons, you should avoid strenuous exercises or activities for two to three weeks. As for side effects, expect the injection site to feel sore for a few days. You may also experience mild swelling, bruising, and numbness in the area as well. However, those effects should go away within a couple of days.
Gain The Benefits Of High-Dose PRP Injections
At Orthagenex, we provide high-dose PRP injections as an effective and safe treatment option for spondylolisthesis. As an alternative to surgery, our PRP injections provide long-term pain relief while promoting the body’s natural healing process. In addition, they’re minimally invasive and require a much shorter recovery than surgery.
If you’re considering PRP injections for spondylolisthesis, we encourage you to contact us for more information and discuss your treatment options. We look forward to helping you achieve relief from chronic spondylolisthesis pain and help improve your quality of life.
Trust the experts in high-dose PRP for treating spondylolisthesis.