A couple weeks ago I wrote about Platelet Rich Plasma therapy (PRP) for chronic injuries. In that post, I explained that short-term recovery means no activity for at least two weeks after the injection. Doctors also tell patients to stay away from anti-inflammatory over-the-counter drugs (like ibuprofen or naproxen) and no icing the injection spot for six to eight weeks.
So once patients clear those hurdles, what comes next? If you’re considering undergoing a PRP injection, here’s what you can expect during your recovery...
Here’s how it went when I tried returning to my run after the PRP exactly two weeks after the injection. My first attempt running on my regular trail lasted all of 13 minutes. And the spot where I’d had the injection hurt just like it had hurt before the PRP. Four weeks post-injection I was able to run 30 minutes. I finally got into the 45 to 50 minute run range two months after the PRP, but it took about three months for the daily aching to end.
If you’ve had a chronic injury, you probably have been through a couple rounds of physical therapy. Get your insurance card ready because your doctor will very likely send you back to therapy after the PRP injection. You’ll need to relearn how to use the injured part of your body the right way. The hope is that while your cells are hard at work healing the tendon or muscle, you and your therapist are hard at work regaining your joint’s range of motion, or correcting the imbalance that contributed to your injury in the first place.
Gradual return to activity
Your doc will likely tell you you’re not allowed to do any activity harder than breathing the first two weeks after the PRP injection. Yes, those first two weeks will stink, especially mentally if you’re used to running every day.
Once the two week period is over, your doctor will likely give you the green light to gradually return to activity. If you’re not too sore, and you feel physically prepared to go to the gym or run, the good news is that you can start clearing the mental cobwebs that built up from your two weeks of sheer boredom. The bad news is, you can’t expect to hit the ground running on that first week – or first month – back.
Once your range of motion returns, you may find new aches and pains. Once I started running again, my left toes were sore for weeks. My physical therapist explained that since we’d been retraining my glutes to work better during a run, that meant I was using my ankle and foot differently as I ran, which is why my toes were hurting. Thankfully the toes got used to the workload.
Anti-inflammatories and ice
If aches and pains return, either from your therapy or from running, the good news is after about eight weeks after the PRP, you should be able to use ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to calm down the pain.