Growing up in San Diego meant that I spent many a day enjoying the beach. In fact, by the time I was six I owned my first surfboard and went every weeknight before dinner to surf the waves with my dad. By the time I was in the seventh grade, I was well accustomed to waking up before dawn on multiple days throughout the week to hit the jetty and soak up some saltwater before school. This way of life continued throughout the eighth grade before I quickly realized that high school wasn’t very conducive to the surfer lifestyle.
Needless to say, my dad continued on without me. Growing up in San Diego, himself, my dad was big in the surfer and skate scene of the 70’s. Big waves and storm warnings were as much a part of my dad’s life, as I am today. Living at the height of the Dogtown era (wherein southern California underwent a drought, not unlike the one of today), where surfers took up skating and bounced from backyard to backyard finding the perfect drained swimming pool to shred. Understandably, since the sport had become a new one, those who experimented in pool skating often times fell—and boy did they fall hard.
Off the top of my head, I can recall two surgeries that my dad has undergone in recent years (yes, he still surfs and skates today). Both of which were done to alleviate the pain on his torn rotator cuffs. However, his rotator cuffs are the least of his concerns. Not one to complain about pain—he drove and then walked himself into the hospital after breaking his leg surfing one morning—my dad has in recent years had to come to terms with the damage he’s done to his body throughout the years. Riddled through with an old-age that he won’t acknowledge and with injuries from decades past, he is finally starting to feel a little worse for the wear, and with his most recent diagnosis he discovered that he needs not one—but both—of his hips replaced.
Hip replacement surgery is no joke, and definitely not something to go into lightly. Suffice to say that having watched my grandfather go through a single hip replacement, my dad is not entirely eager to jump right in and say good-bye to his own worn down hips. Caused by osteoarthritis, or the breaking down of the cartilage covering the ends of the bones, causing the bone and joint to rub together, and leads to chronic pain and increased stiffness in the surrounding area. Most days, my dad is lucky to make it out of bed within five minutes; typically it takes him something like thirty minutes to prep his aching hips to leave the cushiness and warmth of his bed.
Luckily, my dad’s pain management specialist came up with a suggestion that has proven more than effective, even if the idea was met with raised eyebrows. PRP, or platelet rich plasma injection, involves injecting the patient’s own blood platelets into the affected area. The platelets, collected by a sample of blood that is then placed in a centrifuge (spun around until the different components that make up our blood are separated), work to promote the natural healing of damaged ligaments, cartilage, and tendons. Once the platelets have been separated from the blood, they are extracted with a syringe, and guided into the injured hip by way of fluoroscopic x-ray visualization or ultrasound.
While the PRP did not heal my dad’s aching hips (nothing can fully satiate the pain he feels other than undergoing hip replacement surgery), as a non-surgical alternative, it has worked wonders on his osteoarthritis. The outlook for patients seeking pain management for their hips, and other joints, and choose to go the route of platelet rich plasma injections, can hope to experience some level of relief. Often times, as is the case with chronic pain sufferers, several different treatments may be required to find a successful form of treatment to alleviate your symptoms. But if you’re like my dad and happen to find a successful amount of pain relief by PRP, just be certain to avoid reliving your heyday by replicating the era of the Lords of Dogtown, to ensure that you remain feeling great for years to come.