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Have you ever heard your knees crackle while walking around your house? Maybe you’ve pulled a muscle slipping on a slick sidewalk, sneezing the wrong way, or contorting your body awkwardly when trying to return your partner’s serve on the tennis court. Or maybe that shoulder of yours has never felt quite right since you swam for your high school swim team.

Our bodies—for all the amazing things they can do—sometimes like to back-talk to us with aches, pains, and strange noises.

Unfortunately, we can’t send them to time-out and hope things turn around. It’s best to address our bodily blips in order to feel—and live—better.

“Injuries and pain in general aren’t just for the older population,” says Hadi Shah, M.D., GCM Physician. “When you take into account people being active and things wearing down over time, we have to think of alternative options to the standard ones.” Those standard options include physical therapy, cortisone shots, and even surgery.

Two therapies, which GCM offers—platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and viscosupplementation—have been getting more attention in recent years for their roles in the healing process to help ease pain, improve function, and slow down the degenerative process.

The Future of Healing is Now


What it is: Platelet-rich plasma. Platelets are our healing cells, and this process increases our platelet count to promote healing. When blood is drawn from a patient, the blood goes into a kit, where a centrifuge spins the blood to separate the blood from the plasma. The blood gets tossed, and the spinning process increases the platelets in the plasma from around a couple hundred thousand platelets to anywhere from 2 million to 16 million platelets. The PRP gets re-injected into arthritic joints, torn tendons, injured muscles, and the like. That process creates some temporary inflammation, and the healing factors go to work to reduce pain and heal the affected areas. This process also stimulates stem cells to help grow cartilage, which can wear down in degenerative joints.

What it’s used for: Arthritic changes, as well as wear and tear that comes from it. It also helps with acute injuries, like muscle, joint, tendon, or ligament issues, tears, or injuries. “There is some pretty good evidence to show that PRP injections help mild to moderate issues,” Dr. Shah says.

Viscosupplementation (also called gel shots)

What it is: The shot of hyaluronic acid helps replace and replenish the cartilage in the joint, which can then lessen pain and improve function. It can be given in a single shot, but most doctors recommend a series of three to five shots (the single shot can have a higher rate of acute inflammation). “It helps the cartilage regenerate,” Dr. Shah says. “The visco shots are almost like motor oil consistency, so when you’re inserting it, naturally it’ll open up the space in the joint and add some lubrication.”

What it’s used for: Degenerative changes in a joint caused by arthritis. “It can help alleviate pain that comes with this,” Dr. Shah says. It was originally designed for knees, but can also be used for shoulders, hips, ankles, and other areas.

Both PRP and viscosupplementation services are offered at GCM, so talk to your GCM physician about these options to determine what might be right for you. A physical exam, imaging, and discussion will help you and your physician sort out the best approaches. 

Back to Basics

As you’re listening to your body and trying to figure out if a pain is just a little something or part of a bigger issue, you should consider these options:

Listen to Your Body: If something doesn’t feel quite right, take your time and work your way back slowly. A lot of people get hurt when they overextend themselves. If you experience an acute injury, stop right away to avoid aggravating it.

RICE It: For mild injuries, you can go with the reliable protocol of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Avoid using heat for the first two or three days, but you can use it if it helps you feel better after that (ice is best for reducing inflammation in the immediate aftermath of a pull or strain).

Prep Your Body: A good strength and stretching routine is important to fortify yourself for the demands of any physical activity—and for navigating through life. “The more you strengthen the surrounding muscles, the more tension you take off the joint,” Dr. Shah says. 

At GCM, our physicians are here to address your specific concerns and recommend the appropriate courses of action, including PRP injections and viscosupplementation. Please schedule an appointment with your physician to get started.  

2420 West Mississippi Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33629 Telephone: (813) 350-9090 Fax: (833) 941-2649