Sciatica is a symptom of a pinched or compressed nerve. The sciatic nerve — the longest nerve in your body — runs through your buttock and down your leg. When the root of this nerve is compressed in your lower back, the resulting radiating numbness, tingling, or pain is called sciatica.
Treating sciatica can be tricky, but there are plenty of options that can help you get relief. Regenerative specialist Glenn M. Flanagan, MD, is an expert in using a type of regenerative medicine called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to help patients of Naples Regenerative Institute in Naples, Florida, manage their sciatica.
Among various applications, such as treating sports injuries, healing scars on the skin, and even encouraging hair growth, PRP is an excellent choice for sciatica treatment.
Choosing the type of PRP for your sciatica
PRP comes from a blood sample from your own vein. PRP injections don't put you at risk of catching a bloodborne illness because the blood cells and plasma are your own.
Dr. Flanagan obtains the PRP for your treatment by placing your blood sample in a rapidly-spinning device called a centrifuge. The force of the spin, called centrifugal force, separates the different types of cells. When the sample comes out of the centrifuge, there are distinct layers in the vial — the one containing platelets in plasma is PRP.
Some PRP is leukocyte-rich, which means it contains a certain amount of white blood cells. Other PRP samples are leukocyte-poor and have fewer white blood cells. Different sciatica-causing conditions benefit from different types of PRP, so it’s essential for Dr. Flanagan to find out why your sciatic nerve root is compressed so he can decide which type of PRP is appropriate.
Furthermore, Dr. Flanagan makes sure your sample has a high enough concentration of platelets to provide effective treatment.
How PRP treats sciatica-causing conditions
One of sciatica’s most prevalent causes is degenerative disc disease, which causes weak and worn-down spinal discs. Other common causes are herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis.
When using PRP to treat sciatica due to nerve root compression, Dr. Flanagan uses it as an epidural injection. The epidural space is a fatty area surrounding your spinal cord, which easily accepts healing injections in a clinical setting. When injected into the epidural space, PRP stabilizes the area to ease some of the symptoms from nerve compression, such as an electrical jolt down your leg or radiating numbness and tingling.
To treat disc issues causing sciatica, PRP is injected directly into the disc. It helps by pulling the torn pieces of a spinal disc back together and facilitating repair. It’s a slower process than PRP healing other areas, like your skin, because spinal discs don’t contain as many blood vessels. Still, the healing growth factors and platelets in PRP can signal other growth factors to the area for more effective healing.
The list of applications for platelet-rich plasma is constantly growing as experts continue to study it. Schedule your treatment consultation by phone or online at Naples Regenerative Institute today.