Back pain is a common experience, with up to 80 percent of the population developing back pain at some point in their lives. Although many people will have short-term back pain, others will have more chronic pain from injury or degeneration of their spine. One of the most common causes of back pain is a disk herniation, where the oval-shaped cushion between the spinal vertebra bones becomes partially torn.
The disk is designed somewhat like a jelly donut, where the outer, tougher rings, called the annulus, surround an inner, gel fluid called the nucleus. When cracks form in the disk annulus, it allows the gel to leak out, leading to irritation to the nearby nerves. The gel causes the nerves to become inflamed and swollen, and the nerve irritation causes pain, numbness, tingling and/or weakness along the leg, often down to the foot.
Inflammation is a normal part of the natural biological healing process, but it can be excessive and can cause injury to the structures involved. The pain from the irritated nerve root can resolve over time or be stimulated to resolve much faster by injecting the irritated region with a strong anti-inflammatory into the space next to the disk. An epidural steroid injection is a common technique in which the physician injects an anti-inflammatory steroid medication along with local anesthetic into the space where the nerves have become swollen. Steroid medications mimic the body’s natural chemistry but have some possible side effects when they are overused, including softening of the underlying tissue and a reduction in the normal healing response.
Your blood contains platelets — cells that are full of natural inflammatory and anti-inflammatory proteins which are directly involved with the healing process whenever you have an injury. The power of healing that comes from injecting damaged tissues with platelet-rich plasma and stem cells has, for the last 10 years, been harnessed to treat many sports injuries involving the knees, the shoulders and virtually any musculoskeletal structure that has been injured and has not healed naturally.
A new, advanced natural biological solution to this is to use platelet lysate, which is a powerful, anti-inflammatory mixture that is produced by activating the platelets in platelet-rich plasma so that all of the growth factors contained in the platelets can be captured and used for healing. The potential for healing damaged nerves is finally now becoming a reality. Some patients may need to consider surgery to reduce the size of the disk herniation and remove the pressure on the nerves, but for most people, surgery is no longer necessary. For people suffering with joint and spine pain, where surgery has failed and nerve injuries have persisted, there is now research showing that healing of these injuries is finally possible.