PRP vs. Cortisone Shots: Which Is Best for My Overuse Injury?

PRP vs. Cortisone Shots: Which Is Best for My Overuse Injury?

You know you’re supposed to be active for your health. Over time, though, repeated motions can take their toll, especially if you go too hard and too fast. Overusing parts of your body can lead to a variety of injuries, from tendinitis to bursitis.

In any case, an overuse injury can cause discomfort and force you to stop or dial back the activity that caused the injury. However, injection-based treatments may be able to get you back in action faster.

Here at LA Orthopaedic Specialists in Downtown Los Angeles, our providers are experts in treating overuse injuries. Two common treatments we give patients who have overuse injuries are platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and cortisone shots. In this blog, we explain what these treatments do and which one may be best for you.

The basics

Cortisone shots and PRP therapy are two very different treatments. Here’s a brief look at what they do.

Cortisone shots 

Cortisone is a steroid-based medication. These injections work by alleviating both discomfort and inflammation (swelling) at the injury site.

These shots are usually given to provide short-term relief. By reducing the pain and inflammation, these shots can make it easier for your body to heal, and they can also make it possible to undergo physical therapy, if needed.

Platelet-rich plasma therapy

With PRP therapy, we harness the power of your body’s own healing resources. Your body produces platelets, which help the body heal. By extracting platelets from your blood and injecting them into the injured area, this can help your body heal faster.

To perform this treatment, we take a small sample of your blood. Then we put it in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the rest of the substances in your blood. Then we take the resulting platelet serum and inject it into the site of the injury.

Once injected, the platelets go straight to work, generating new cells and repairing the damaged tissue.

The risks

As mentioned, PRP therapy uses resources that come from your own blood. Because of this, there is very little risk for adverse reactions. As with any injection, there are small risks, such as bleeding, pain, and infection.

When it comes to cortisone shots, researchers still don’t fully know the risks. Because there is some concern that these shots might damage cartilage, there’s currently a cap on the number of cortisone shots you can get in any given year. 

The outlook

Cortisone shots usually kick in within one week. The pain relief can last a couple of months or longer. 

Regarding PRP therapy, it does help speed healing by flooding the injured area with additional resources, but it still takes time for the natural processes to play out. Most people start to see an improvement within 6-8 weeks. Unlike a cortisone shot, though, the effects of PRP therapy shouldn’t wear off, because this treatment helps heal the injury. 

Because PRP therapy comes with fewer risks, helps boost healing, and can provide more permanent pain relief, we often recommend it over cortisone shots for overuse injuries. However, every case is unique, and what we recommend for you will depend on your individual situation.

To learn more about cortisone shots, PRP therapy, or any of our treatment options, call 213-455-8448 or book an appointment online with LA Orthopaedic Specialists today.

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