The Perils of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): 8 Week Update

After my first sports medicine doctor (and current one, who was my second opinion) recommended a Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injection for my low-grade, partially torn right hamstring, I sought out blogs and Facebook groups for opinions and support. It’s no substitute for medical advice, but talking to others who’d been through the process helped calm my fears. Likewise, if any of my injured friends need a listening ear, I’m here for you.

Although I haven’t been blogging much lately, I posted about my PRP experiences and plan to post recovery updates. As always, see a doctor if you’re injured, and remember every injury is different and your results may vary.

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Post-PRP Activities

My first injection was on Monday, June 11, and I rested completely until that weekend, when I did some gentle upper body lifting. The next week, I went on some walks and did upper body lifts and a bit of recumbent bike. I was super conservative- I want my hamstring to heal- but I was also busy with software releases for work and preparing for vacation. We were relatively active on the cruise (taking the stairs, walking in port), and I didn’t bother with the ship’s gym.

Four weeks post-injection, I was back to gymming for an hour a day most days. Gymming consists of ellipticalling, arc trainer-ing, and conservative weight training (usually BodyPump). Per doctor’s orders, running, jumping, and any explosive movements were- and still are- out.

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Post-PRP Pain Relief

I didn’t see any pain relief for several weeks. The week of the injection brought worse pain as well as tiredness/lack of energy due to the inflammatory response. For awhile, Clay and I worried that I’d be a non-responder and the injection wouldn’t work at all.

Five weeks post-injection, I noticed a definite improvement in pain when I woke up or sat for long periods, as well as an increased range of motion in my upper hamstring. Still, my hamstring was far from perfect, and I scheduled a follow-up with Dr. Geier (sports medicine orthopedic surgeon), who suggested a follow-up MRI and possible injection, depending on the MRI results. 

Dr. Geier is a wonderful doctor, and while I recommend him to any of my local friends who need an ortho, I hope to only see him on his YouTube channel instead of in his office.

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Last Saturday, I had the MRI, and I got the results on Monday.

The report said: Interval improvement in low grade partial tearing at the origin of the hamstring tendon complex. Associated marrow edema has nearly completely resolved.

In non-medical terms, interval improvement means the tear is smaller than it was at the last MRI.

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I visited my doctor the Wednesday after to see the MRI images and get his opinion, and while he did not measure the tear (initial tear was 8mm), the lack of inflammation and smaller tear were clearly visible on the MRI.

Dr. Geier commented that the tear looks 60-80% better, and he’s very pleased with the results of the first PRP injection. 

Round Two

Knowing how I feel, the time I’ve spent treating this injury, and the false hope I had back in March when I thought it was healing, I opted for a second injection (doc was on board).

The phlebotomist, Jason, came in to draw blood from my arm, which went amazingly well. Only one prick, and my blood came out very easily and quickly. I waited while the phlebotomy crew spun the centrifuge to separate the platelets, then brought them back into the room.

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My blood yielded more platelets, which were then injected at the site of my pain- the very top of my hamstring where it meets the glute. The injection went well and didn’t hurt, and I took several days off gymming to rest the hamstring and let the PRP settle. 

Round Two Recovery

Once again, I had pain around the injection/injury site over the next few days, so I sat on pillows. This post-injection pain was even worse than the first injection and very intense. Standing up and walking around were fine, but sitting without pillows hurt.

I accidentally sat on the floor to fold my laundry on Friday, and that was a big mistake. On Saturday, I decided sitting in general was overrated and opted to mostly stand or lie on my side on the couch that afternoon.

It was weird to go from having less pain to barely being able to sit, but since I’ve been through the process, I reminded myself that it’s temporary and a good sign. Thankfully, Sunday was much better, and I’m hopefully back on the road to continued recovery.

Here’s to hoping the platelets work their magic in the next few weeks!

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This entry was posted in High Hamstring Tendon, Injury, Platelet Rich Plasma, Team Janky and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to The Perils of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): 8 Week Update

  1. What a relief to have the MRI show that the tear is healing! Best of luck as you heal from your second injection.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      With the pain relief before the MRI, I had the feeling it was healing. It was a nice confirmation when I saw the results and even better when the doctor showed me and that he was pleased with the results of the first injection.

  2. Kristin says:

    Thanks for sharing this. Glad to hear your MRI is showing improvement!
    I have been struggling with knee pain since November that was diagnosed as a fissure in my articular cartilage. It seemed to be getting better but the pain and stiffness returned this weekend to the point that I am thinking about following up with my doc about chicken cartilage injections. Ugh! It stinks having to be patient.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I’ve read a ton about regenerative medicine since that’s what PRP is, but this is the first time I’ve heard of chicken cartilage injections. If I were in your shoes, definitely follow up with the doc especially if the pain went away and returned. The worst the doc can do is basically say no, which leaves you in the same situation you’re in, so you have nothing to lose. Most of all, I hope you can get some pain relief as well as healing soon.

  3. Yeah improvement! It’s good that you can see something measurable. Avoiding explosive movements made me feel like an old lady. “sorry, I can’t do that”. ugh. I felt like I had really improved a lot when my PT put squat jumps into my treatment plan!
    Love your ass picture 😉

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Jump squats, burpees, etc, are all out for me. You seem to be doing really well lately though with a lot of running and the triathlon (congrats on winning your age group!). I’m so glad that the PT is working and that you’re getting stronger and can move explosively!

  4. runeatralph says:

    Hooray for progress! Great use of Maury there.

  5. AJ says:

    Oh fingers crossed this second injection does the trick. How many injections are you supposed to need?

    • Amy Lauren says:

      There’s no set number- some people are one and done, but a lot of people have multiple injections. If I haven’t seen any improvement in 6 weeks, I’ll schedule another follow up, but hopefully this one takes care of it. I’d much rather spend that money on my home!

      • AJ says:

        For sure! I hope the two are enough:)

      • Amy Lauren says:

        I’ll always say the most expensive injury treatment is the one that doesn’t work, but my bank account is seriously hoping two injections will be enough. It’s already August so I’m going into holiday saving mode over here!

      • AJ says:

        Yes all medical treatments seem super expensive! I’m trying to remember that when I curse rolling, stretching and ice bathing!
        I seem to spend way more when I’m on holidays and not making any money😞

      • Amy Lauren says:

        I’m grateful I have the money for the injections, and it’s still way cheaper than surgery or many treatments out there. The price of PRP injections can be cost prohibitive because insurance doesn’t cover them (mine didn’t- but mine covered most of the cost of the MRI and the office visits, thankfully).

        However, it’s still something I have to budget for. Clay and I do weekly lunch dates and after I scheduled the follow up MRI to see if I’d need another PRP injection, we used coupons and/or gift cards on all the dates since!

      • AJ says:

        Yup I definitely end up having to budget too! That was a good idea to be able to continue your dates- don’t want to have to give that up!

  6. It has been neat to read about your PRP injection journey! While I wish you didn’t have to go through it in the first place, I know this is going to help others who are going through similar things! I hope the second injection continues to heal so you can get back to running!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I hope so too! I mentioned a few weeks ago, I really don’t have any timeline for running again. I feel confident that I will someday, and I know others who’ve overcome this injury to run very well.

      After every doctors appointment, running friends ask me “So what did the doc say about running? Did he say when you can run again?”. I don’t even ask- my doctor is my doctor and his priority is treating my torn tendon, not having me ready for a run or race by X date. Once it’s healed it’s up to me to get back into running.

      • You have the best attitude about it!!

      • Amy Lauren says:

        I try. I have my moments, but let’s be honest, I can delete what I type on here before clicking submit. You can’t do that with actual feelings and things are way more unfiltered in real life. I’ve had my share of vent sessions over coffee or cocktails, but when you’ve been injured for months, that’s totally allowed.

        You gotta play the hand you’re dealt, and when I do run again, it will be with this body. So I’m pretty damn adament about seeing the MRIs, talking to the doc, using the messenger to ask the staff questions, research, etc.

  7. brent says:

    This is fabulous to read. i have exactly the same injury; a chronic 12mm tear in the right, proximal hamstring tendon. i’m really pleased that PRP has given you some progress on this most frustrating of injuries (Ive been battling recovery since March). Wishing you a speedy recovery and hopefully you get even more gains from round 2. Look forward to reading about it.
    thank you .

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I’m glad you’ve found it helpful. My MRI was late in the game because I tried to run, did PT, “rested”, and waited on it to heal. I exhausted conservative measures before even going to an ortho (the first ortho).

      The smartest thing I did was get the second opinion because he’s easier to get an appointment with and could do the PRP injection sooner.

      I hope the doctors have some answers for you, but keep asking questions. It’s their profession but it’s your body.

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