Everyone experiences pain at some point in their lifetime — it is inevitable. In fact, pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. The American Academy of Pain Medicine estimates that 1.5 billion people are affected by pain worldwide and pain is cited as one of the leading causes of disability and contributor to health care costs.
Many Americans feel they are not receiving adequate treatment from their primary care physicians and are now seeking out alternative or integrative practitioners, like naturopathic physicians (NMD’s). Naturopathic physicians devote more time to helping their patients and they use natural therapies to treat the same ailments for which many physicians don’t have an answer. These therapies include: clinical nutrition and nutritional supplementation, natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, acupuncture and intravenous vitamin and mineral infusions.
One of the newest and most cutting-edge natural therapies to treat and reverse pain is platelet-rich plasma therapy, or PRP. PRP is a great novel approach to assist in the repair and regeneration of injured or inflamed tissue. How does PRP work? A small amount of blood is drawn from a patient and then spun in a special centrifuge. The centrifuge separates the different components of blood including red blood cells, the plasma, or liquid portion of blood, and platelets. A mixture of platelets and plasma is then injected back into a muscle, ligament, tendon or joint. This is when the platelets go to work. Platelets are specialized cells that are responsible for injury healing. PRP injections stimulate the growth of new collagen and ligament fibers resulting in stronger ligaments, more stable or tighter joints, improved joint function, healing of muscles and a reduction in pain. While a normal concentration of platelets circulating in your blood is 200,000 per microliter, the platelet count in PRP can exceed 2 million platelets per microliter.
Many athletes are now becoming privy to PRP to help them recover and heal from injuries. Recently, Kobe Bryant, forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, underwent a series of PRP treatments in Germany to help treat his ailing, arthritic right knee. PRP is not just great for treating athletic and acute injuries like sprains and strains, but also many other painful conditions associated with the aging process, including arthritis and fibromyalgia. PRP is very safe and virtually any area of the body can be treated using this technique.
• Ahwatukee Foothills’ Dr. Matthew Cavaiola is a licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist, who treats a variety of conditions and illnesses associated with the aging process. Reach him at (602) 432-2900 or visit www.phoenixantiagingclinic.com.