By: Coco Ang, PT
Regenerative Injection Therapies, such as stem cell therapy and platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatments, are now being increasingly used for the treatment of slow-healing joint, tendon, ligament and muscular injuries. In addition to sports injuries, it is becoming increasingly popular for degenerative conditions such as Osteoarthritis. The treatment uses the body’s own stem cells and builds on its ability to regenerate and heal in order to treat pain and injuries.
The treatment allows for non-invasive and non-surgical techniques to be used, enabling the body to recover on its own. If you and your doctor agree that a regenerative injection therapy is best for you, here is what you can expect a few days and weeks after the procedure.
Pain and Swelling
While the treatment does not cause much pain or restriction in mobility, it’s fair to expect some degree of discomfort and swelling in the injected area. The discomfort may last from 48 hours to two weeks. There may also be an occurrence of pain after the two week period.
The discomfort and swelling are nothing to be alarmed about. However, it is important that you do not take any anti-inflammatory medication post-procedure for a minimum of 2-3 months or as recommended by your physician.
Healing After the Process
It’s extremely important for you to be patient throughout the healing process. Regenerative injection therapies are a groundbreaking medical technique—not a miracle treatment. The process takes the body’s own ability to heal to treat injuries and pain and this varies from person to person. Prepare yourself mentally that it may take some time for you to recover completely. Have a recovery period of 3-6 months is to be expected.
Returning To Sports after Treatment
How fast you recover and are able to return to sports depends on several factors that include but are not limited to:
- The severity of the injury
- The time it takes your body to respond to the treatment
- How well you can avoid aggravating the injury during the time it takes your body to recover and heal
Your doctor and physiotherapist will help formulate a plan for you that will allow you to ease back into your training or exercise routine. The importance of physiotherapy is vital as this will help you regain your strength and function post procedure.
It is important to know that during the recovery process, an absence of pain is not an indication of complete recovery. Many times, athletes jump back into their intense routines as soon as they observe that the area of injury is free of pain. This can often be a big mistake since the absence of pain after a regenerative injection therapy simply means that the inflammation has subsided—not that tissues have healed completely.
The regenerated tissues are still weak and need to be strengthened over time before they can be subjected to stress.
During the first week of recovery, athletes can go about their normal routines but should avoid any active exercise that involves the site of injury. From 3 to 4 weeks post-treatment, athletes can slowly begin increasing the intensity of their exercise. Special care should be taken to not overdo the exercise, as that may cause a setback to the healing process.
From five weeks post-treatment, you may return to your normal exercise routine, given that your doctor and physiotherapist gives you the green light to do so. It is not advised to follow your own exercise regimen as this may potentially disrupt your healing and impair the effectiveness of the injections.
If you’d like more information on regenerative injection therapy, reach out to us.
Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute clinics are greater Toronto area based sports medicine, physiotherapy and massage therapy clinics that offer a wide range of services such as sports medicine physicians, physiotherapist, massage therapists and PRP treatments, among others.