The PRP injection process is delicate and requires more than a single doctors visit. When plasma-rich platelets are injected, they require time to repair damaged tissue inside the body. The healing process typically takes weeks and can even take two or three months.
After receiving PRP injections, you should limit your workouts. Slowly build back up to your regular fitness routine and limit your weight lifting, stretching and cardio exercises. Be mindful of your pain levels while you exercise and if you feel pain, stop immediately. An important thing to remember is to avoid exercises that compress your joints that received the injections.
Early in the healing process, your cells will need the opportunity to set in place. Compression exercises make it much more difficult for platelets to attach to the damaged tissue. These exercises will slow down the healing process. Avoid heavy lifting and putting any stress on the injected joints for a while after treatment. The side effects of pushing your body too hard are pain and continued weakness in your joints.
Here are some guidelines on how to approach exercise after PRP injections.
The First Two Weeks
The first week after receiving a PRP injection, you should rest and forgo exercise. At this stage, the platelets are just beginning to attach properly. If you work out or stretch too much, the platelets may not attach, rendering the injections useless. You should not exercise at this time.
After the first week, your workout regimen should be limited to basic exercise such as the daily movements of life. You can return to light workouts, such as basic yoga or minimal weight lifting. You should avoid any workout that causes the injected joint to be compressed. The more pressure that is placed on the joint, the less likely the platelets will stay in place and be able to heal your damaged tissue. Swimming and water sports should also be avoided so the injection site can fully close and heal.
Pain is common, but can be eased through ice and prescription medications after the first week. Avoid NSAIDS, also known as anti-inflammatories. Your body needs inflammation in order to utilize the PRP. If you experience severe pain, contact your doctor immediately.
3-4 Weeks After the Injection
At this point, the cells have locked in place and are working to develop new tissues. While the process is still delicate, you may be able to increase the intensity of your workouts.
At this stage, it is safe to begin light workouts. You may resume workouts such as lifting, stretching and cardio as long as you lower the intensity of your workouts. Continue to avoid anything that compresses your joints. The less compression on the injected joints, the better. If you overdo it, you may experience setbacks.
Continue with prescribed medications and ice for pain as recommended by your doctor. By the end of the first month, limited use of NSAIDS may be okay, but continue with prescribed pain medication from your doctor unless they tell you otherwise.
The Next Month and Onward
One to two months after the injection, your new cells are actively rebuilding your tissues. Regular workouts are much safer to perform. Still, be sure to ease back into your workouts slowly and do not push yourself to pain.
At this time, you may be cleared to do exercises that compress your joints but be mindful of your body. If you experience pain, be sure to take a break. Always remember to be careful when compressing your joints.
You may use NSAIDS at this stage of the healing process. The body no longer needs inflammation as it did at the beginning of the healing process. You may also use ice and it may even be your best option for dealing with any residual pain. However, talk to your doctor about any pain you experience to receive treatment options best for you.
Platelet rich plasma injections are a delicate procedure from start to finish. It is essential that you are careful post injection and lower the intensity of your physical activity throughout recovery. If you overexert yourself, the cells produced from the PRP will not attach properly and will not be able to rebuild your tissues, limiting the effectiveness of the injection.
Listen to your body, especially when you experience pain. The first two weeks after the injection, refrain from pushing yourself. After the initial weeks, you may slowly return to regular activity. Remember, pain is a sign from your body to slow down.
Most of all, be patient. The PRP injection healing process is just like the healing process from an injury, it takes time. Give yourself time to heal and be patient with your progress. In the end, the benefits of the injections are worth the time it takes to heal.
At Arizona Pain and Spine, our doctors are experienced with PRP therapy and can answer any questions you may have about the process. Set up a consultation with us today to learn how PRP injections can help you.