Platelet Lysate Therapy: A Non-Surgical Approach to Treatment of Low Back Pain

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How common is low back pain?

Around four out of five people experience low back pain at some point in their lives - in fact, it’s one of the most common reasons people visit their healthcare providers. Individuals most commonly develop low back pain after the age of 40, but it can begin as early as 30 or sometimes even younger.

What causes low back pain?

There are many culprits behind low back pain, with some of the more common causes including…  

  • Age-related spinal changes  
  • Obesity  
  • Weak core muscles  
  • Repetitive damaging activities (jobs or hobbies that include heavy lifting, bending, or twisting)  
  • Injuries including disc herniation or ligament tears  
  • Structural/anatomical conditions such as scoliosis  
  • Diseases such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis

What treatment options are available?

Conventional treatments for pain, such as physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, and surgical interventions, are typically focused on alleviating the symptoms rather than healing the main source of discomfort. In many cases, there is a ceiling to what these therapies can provide for an individual in their pursuits of pain management and musculoskeletal healing. This is where platelet lysate therapy by Regenexx offers a unique approach.

What is Platelet Lysate Therapy?

Platelet Lysate Therapy  shares similarities with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy, offering a few additional steps and benefits. It can be safely used in the epidural space, which is not an option with traditional PRP or Regenexx PRP. Both procedures involve concentrating platelets from an individual's blood into a serum to leverage the growth factors they release for tissue repair. PRP operates over an extended period, with platelets in a PRP concentration releasing growth factors over about a week. The subsequent healing and relief is typically seen after a few weeks. In contrast, Platelet Lysate Therapy involves lysing, or "breaking open", the platelets for the immediate release of growth factors and anti-inflammatory proteins. This tends to encourage quicker results.

How is Platelet Lysate Therapy used to treat low back pain?

A significant proportion of chronic low back pain stems from inflammation and irritation of the intervertebral discs and spinal nerves. This irritation is typically due to repetitive damaging motions, resulting in disc herniation, or from pinching of the nerves because of anatomic changes. The spinal nerves reside within a space called the epidural space. The spinal cord (and the brain) are covered in three layers of tissue called meninges. The first layer, closest to the spinal cord, is the pia mater. The middle layer is the arachnoid mater, and the outer layer is the dura mater.  The spinal nerves lie outside the dura mater in the epidural space. Platelet lysate concentration injected into the epidural space allows the healing proteins and growth factors to reach the injured tissues of the intervertebral discs and the spinal nerves. Platelet lysate therapy is safe to use within the epidural space because after lysing the platelets, the solution is filtered to remove cellular debris, rendering it safe for injection into such a delicate area. 

Is Platelet Lysate Therapy effective?

PLT has been proven to be effective for the treatment of low back pain caused by spinal nerve irritation or herniated discs. One study looked at patients with a history of disc herniation, which is a common cause of low back pain, and found that injection of platelet lysate therapy into the epidural space can help initiate or expedite resorption of the herniated disc. This alleviates some of the pressure on the spinal nerves and helps to improve pain. 

What can be expected during the procedure?

The first step is collecting a small sample of your blood so it may be spun down and processed in a laboratory setting using proprietary techniques. This processing begins with the sample in a centrifuge to separate the layers so the plasma, which contains platelets, may be extracted. The plasma is then frozen and thawed, and during the thawing process the ice crystals from freezing break up the platelets and release the growth factors. Once processing of the platelet lysate is complete, typically 3 mL of the serum is injected in the epidural space using a transforaminal, interlaminar, or caudal approach. The injection approach used is based on anatomy, location of the injury, and other clinical factors. Dr. Kohler at Ospina Medical is trained in PLT and will be able to recommend the best approach for your individual case.

Risks of PLT and Recovery Time 

Although platelet lysate therapy is generally very safe, there are some associated risks. As with most injections, risks include bleeding, irritation, pain, and infection. You cannot undergo PLT if you are taking any kind of blood thinner, or if you are pregnant. There is minimal recovery time after receiving PLT, but post-procedural soreness can be anticipated for a handful of days after the procedure.   

Are you ready to learn more about PLT for your back pain? Book your consultation with Ospina Medical today and get started on your pain management journey!

Written By: Dakota Boonstra

Edited By: Camden Rowe

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.