Avera Medical Minute: PRP injections make world of difference for man dealing with arthritis

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Sioux Falls, S.D. - Arthritis is something many people deal with on a day to day basis and it can make life much more difficult.

Randy Derheim knows that first hand.

He is an avid golfer, but three or four years ago he developed chronic arthritis in his shoulder.

Over the years the pain only got worse.

“In the middle of the night I would have to lift my arm into a position where it wasn’t in pain,” Derheim said. “Simple things like putting a belt on, washing your hair, driving in a certain position, those were problematic for me.”

Last summer Randy went to an Avera event where Dr. Jonathan Buchanan spoke about platelet-rich plasma or PRP.

“PRP is taking just the platelets, the kind of health healing part of the blood and concentrating it.” Avera Orthopedics Primary Care Sports Medicine Physician Dr. Buchanan said. “So it's platelet-rich plasma.”

Doctors then take PRP and inject it into an area that has been slowly injured over the years.

PRP injections can be used in any joint area such as in someone's heel or in Randy’s case, his shoulder.

“You actually create a fresh injury for lack of a better word,” Dr. Buchanan said. “That blood brings within it the platelets that can stimulate the stem cell migration. Stimulate the healing process.”

“Ultimately I came to a conclusion that that would be a good result for me because the alternative was going to be a full shoulder replacement,” Derheim said. “I thought well if I get a shoulder replacement now, I’ll probably end up getting one again sometime in my life.”

As an avid golfer, Randy didn’t want to lose a whole golf season.

“I was kind of selfish,” Derheim said.

So he started platelet-rich plasma injections in January.

Randy had three injections two weeks apart.

“That allows, the inflammation lasts a couple of weeks,” Dr. Buchanan said. “So you put the injections in and let the inflammation phase get over and then you put in a little bit more.”

Today randy is still healing, but…

“PRP is not the fountain of youth,” Dr. Buchanan said. “Randy doesn’t have 20-year-old shoulders again, but it does put a little layer of cartilage, a small layer between the bones that kind of helps them move a little bit better and helps to decrease the total pain that he's having.”

“It’s a life-changing experience if it works,” Derheim said. “For me, it’s working. I’m very excited about that. When you're happier and you sleep better, and you're healthier, you’re in a better spot.”

PRP injections usually work best in people who have mild to moderate arthritis.
Dr. Buchanan said Randy’s arthritis was more severe, but they did the injections to see if they would help and thankfully they have.