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PRP Vs. Surgery: Combating Opioids

PRP Vs. Surgery

With major surgery often come prescription opioids, a painkiller that has hooked hundreds of thousands and killed over 70,000. Used to relieve severe pain, its chemical makeup is highly addictive and lures users towards more dangerous drugs including illegally-sourced opioid derivatives, heroin, and fentanyl. 

In a recently published study, researchers discovered an increase in opioid prescriptions for ankle sprains over a nine-year period. The scary part is this: 8.4% of those patients were still filling the prescription three months after the original diagnosis. 

Ankle sprains do not require such a strong painkiller as an opioid – ibuprofen does the trick. These drugs have never been included in medical treatment recommendations of ankle sprains. Besides, three months is enough to heal grade 1 and 2 ankle sprains; while grade 3 tears take several months to heal, opioids are still not medically necessary. 

In fact, the healing time of ankle sprains can be significantly reduced with regenerative therapy. PRP (platelet-rich plasma) can be injected into the ankle every 3 weeks, depending on the severity of the sprain. The treatment strengthens and renews sinews, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and cartilage by using the body’s own healing components. PRP signals the body to stabilize the joint, alleviating pain and quickening recovery. 

The Connection Between Surgery & Opioids

When surgery is the only way to treat a problem, there isn’t much you can do, right? However, more and more research is emerging about the alternatives to this invasive approach. According to a study at Stanford Medicine, arthroscopic surgery for meniscus tears results in a significantly lower rate of total knee replacement and, as a result, subsequent opioid prescriptions.

But what if there was a way to treat these tears without surgery, even the minimally-invasive kind? Enter, platelet-rich-plasma. 

How Does PRP Work?

It involves a simple and non-invasive process; doctors draw blood from the patient, centrifuge the blood in a lab to isolate the platelets and white blood cells and inject the concentrated cell cocktail into the affected area. 

PRP releases growth factors that possess multiple regenerative properties. The white blood cells contain enzyme-rich neutrophils and infection-fighting macrophages and phagocytes. All of these compounds work together to regenerate cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and bone. 

In a study analyzing meniscus repair, PRP had a substantial protective effect on meniscus repair failure. This means that PRP significantly reduced the risk of more surgery in the future. These findings suggest that surgery is not always the best route to take. There are other ways to heal injuries, and the safest way to do that is to harness the power of your own body.

If you have a musculoskeletal injury and are considering surgery, or can’t seem to find the right way to relieve pain and improve function, schedule a consultation with Dr. Scott Greenberg. He has over 20 years of experience treating patients with regenerative therapies, using stem cell therapyPRP, and prolotherapy.

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