Imagine being a long-distance runner experiencing pain in the pelvis and hips. You are eventually diagnosed with a condition known as osteitis pubis. Your doctor tells you that rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and some physical therapy are necessary. She tells you to plan on not running for 9 to 11 months.
Taking so much time away can make a runner crazy. And getting back into running after taking so much time off can be extremely discouraging. So, is there a better way? According to the well-known Running Doc™, Lewis G. Maharam, MD, FACSM, there is. He recommends considering PRP therapy.
An Explanation of Osteitis Pubis
Osteitis pubis is an overuse injury characterized by pain and inflammation where the pelvic bones come together. Often times the pain extends upward into the groin and hips. If left untreated, inflammation of the pelvic bones can result in stress fractures.
The condition is most frequently observed in women in their mid-30s and men ranging in age from 40 to 50. It is most common among people who participate in sports requiring repetitive kicking, jumping, and other motions that initiate impact on the pelvis. Think things talking running, ice hockey, kickboxing, soccer, and even weightlifting.
Improper training, poor physical conditioning, and previous injuries can all lead to or exacerbate osteitis pubis. Treatment of the condition is almost always a combination of anti-inflammatory medications and rest.
How PRP May Help
PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy is a therapy that utilizes blood platelets and their associated growth factors to stimulate natural healing. The therapy has been used by surgeons since the 1990s to stimulate bone growth and promote wound healing following surgical procedures – a point that is rather important given what surgeons know about both PRP and stem cell injections.
Though the mechanism behind PRP injections is not fully understood, science does know that both platelets and growth factors are critical components in the healing process. It is believed that injecting PRP into the site of a musculoskeletal injury signals the body to begin healing itself while also providing some of the raw materials necessary for doing so.
Dr. Maharam wrote in a January 14 (2019) piece for the New York Daily News that he had treated eight patients suffering from osteitis pubis with PRP injections since November 2018. He wrote that all of them returned to running in less than a month.
There Are No Guarantees
Just like with anti-inflammatory medications and rest, there are no guarantees that PRP injections will help a person suffering with osteitis pubis. Moreover, there is no way to tell how effective the injections will be without actually trying them. But that is true with most medical treatments.
Dr. Maharam says that some patients require multiple injections just to see how their bodies will respond. According to the Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute of Salt Lake City, Utah, multiple injections are pretty standard. Rare is the patient who experiences full recovery from just a single treatment.
It is also important to note that how the therapy is carried out makes an enormous difference. For example, doctors used to think that injections just had to be close to the site of injury to work. They now know that they have to be a bit more precise. More and more doctors are using imaging equipment to make sure that their chosen injection sites are the best possible sites.
PRP therapy gives doctors another option for treating osteitis pubis. As for runners, the possibility of getting back to the sport in less than a month is quite appealing for obvious reasons.