PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) Injection and Recovery: Week 2
YAY! Two weeks down, four-ish to go! The first two weeks seem to have passed by very quickly and, now that I am cleared for some activity, I'm hopeful that the remaining weeks will do the same. Since I didn't discuss this in my week one post, I'll mention a little about the science/theory behind the platelet-rich plasma injection.
Here's my rather watered-down description, based on what I've discovered through my own research and the information I received from three orthopedic physicians: the needle poke into the tendon creates an injury-like inflammation response; when the body recognizes that there has been a "trauma" to the tendon/affected area, it turns on the healing process and, as that happens, the tendon sucks in the newly-injected platelets (rich with naturally occurring growth factors). Since tendons normally receive very little blood flow, the introduction of these platelets promotes the regeneration and repair of the tissue.
As I mentioned previously, I was cleared to get back on my bicycle "7-10 days" post-injection and I made it 7.5 days before venturing out; I took last Wednesday as a rest day, the day after that first ride, and experienced no more soreness than usual. In fact, I think the activity served to loosen everything up a bit and it helped me to recognize the areas that were feeling tight.
Walking around, and most activities of daily life, were feeling fine but certain motions continued to trigger a response: for example, quick stops and starts, like rounding blind corners at work and having to change direction or stop motion really fast, would cause that area at the connection site/sit bone to tense up and bite a little bit.
After a successful ride on Tuesday, and rest day on Wednesday, I rode again on Thursday morning and it was even better than the ride before; I was able to push a little harder, with no ill effects, and get my legs moving a little quicker.
Thanks to the #jasyogajuly challenge, I've been making sure to find ways to incorporate Jasyoga into my day. On Friday, I did my very favorite video, Comprehensive Hip/Hamstring Reset, which really served to open up the entire hip/glute area with no stress or strain; it felt amazing!
Saturday morning I met up with a group of friends to ride a new-to-me-route, which is always fun; I managed to cruise through thirty road miles with no problems and, other than a little calf soreness the next day, I couldn't even tell I'd be on the bike that long!
Saturday night was a late night, thanks to birthday celebrations; I had designs on going back out for another ride Sunday morning, but my bed and a good book ending up winning the battle. Nevertheless, I did another round of Jasyoga and felt really good after Saturday's longer ride.
Because the goal of the PRP injection is to resolve pain through tissue regeneration, it takes time for the regeneration to happen. Some have suggested that this process mirrors the phases of wound healing, which can take up to 100 days to a full year. As of Monday evening (July 10), I feel like I've turned a corner; I would guess that I'm pretty close to where I was pre-injection, which is fantastic after only two weeks.
I will gradually continue to increase my activity level, without adding any additional load to the tendon, in order to maintain blood flow to both the injected and surrounding areas over the next few weeks. There are still times when I notice a sensation (it's not what I would consider painful) during activities like bending down quickly, squatting to sit on the toilet (isn't that always the toughest thing?), and any activity that requires the use of just one leg at a time (like putting on pants!), but all of these things are getting progressively easier and easier each day.
This weekend, I'll be riding 65K (just over 40 miles) in a charity cycling event; this will be my longest riding distance to date and I'm super excited because there will be free beer and handcrafted ice cream at the finish! I'm thinking about writing a post on my experience as a newbie cyclist but, in the meantime, let me just say that they know how to celebrate. More to come!