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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!