Understanding injection therapy for injuries and pain

When is it right for you?

Not just for professional athletes anymore, injections therapies have gone mainstream. These may be the option for you, especially if you are managing episodic and acute pain and injuries. We sat down with Dr. Andrew Miners, Director of Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation at Medcan, to learn how these types of therapies can relieve chronic pain and facilitate healing.

What is injection therapy?

These medical therapies are performed by injection with a hypodermic needle. This can include a steroid injection, platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP), bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) and hyaluronic acid injection (HA). At Medcan, the procedures are conducted by an orthopaedic surgeon or a physiatrist. These therapies are recommended to manage pain as part of a comprehensive rehabilitation or management plan.

Steroid injections and PRP therapy

A steroid injection targets a specific injury much like a fire extinguisher is used for a fire in a specific room while oral medicine is more like a sprinkler system for the whole building. PRP works in a similar way, except you are using your own blood to promote the healing process. Steroid injection can be used to treat acute and chronic tendinitis and bursitis conditions and PRP can help mild to moderate osteoarthritis, most commonly knee osteoarthritis.

BMAC for osteoarthritis or tendon injuries

BMAC contains progenitor stem stem cells that can help the healing of some bone and joint conditions. Bone marrow aspirate concentrate is obtained from the patient with a minimally invasive procedure that avoids the risks of an open bone graft procedure. The bone marrow is then spun down in a centrifuge to separate the cells. The physician injects the concentrate directly into the injury where it will stimulate healing and anti-inflammation.

Hyaluronic acid injections for osteoarthristis

HA is similar to a substance that naturally occurs in the joints and diminishes over time. It acts kind of like a lubricant to manage pain and makes the joint easier to move. The synthetic fluid is injected in your joint, most often in the knee for people with osteoarthritis. Sometimes the Medcan physician will mix a steroid with the HA to improve both immediate and longer term pain control.

Can we consider these injection therapies “one and done” treatments?

It’s important to recognize that none of these treatment options stand alone. It makes sense to treat concurrently with an appropriate rehab program that will build up strength and mobility. These treatments can’t reverse osteoarthritis and won’t regrow cartilage. But they can help with symptoms and function.

Are these treatments covered by insurance?

Physician consultations are covered but it’s best to check with your benefits provider on whether the recommended procedure is covered.

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