Everyone knows that exercise is good for you. No medical specialty takes that fact more seriously than physical medicine & rehabilitation (physiatry). Exercise is an essential tool for rehabilitating from any festering injury or pain condition. Not only has exercise been shown to reduce pain, elevate mood, and improve function; new research demonstrates that it can even change the contents of your platelets. Let me explain…

Growth factors found in platelets are the active ingredient in platelet rich plasma (PRP). Growth factors are to platelets what caffeine is to coffee. It is the growth factors that stimulate the local stem cells to wake up and do their job. There are many, many growth factors in platelets. There are IGF’s which are insulin like growth factors, HGF’s which are hepatocyte growth factors, PDGF’s of various A and B types which are Platelet Derived Growth Factors, and VEGF’s which are Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors (just to name a few). Each of these growth factors do different things, but work together to stimulate your body’s innate healing response. In your body, this system kicks into gear when you bleed into a wound. After an injury, chemical messengers activate the platelets to clot the area and also prompt them to start releasing these growth factors. This is why doctors have begun to use PRP to promote healing in an area that hasn’t been able to heal on it’s own.

A recent study used 10 healthy subjects who performed an hour of moderate exercise and had their blood drawn immediately before, immediately after, and 18 hours after completing exercise. PRP was made from each of the blood samples, and the content’s of the platelets were analyzed. The results showed that exercise does significantly impact Platelet Derived Growth Factors in PRP by significantly reducing the concentrations of VEGF and PDFG-AB while concentrations of IGF1 and HGF were unchanged.

Did I say, “reduce?” Does it make sense that the concentration of two of the growth factors in platelets would go down? The body’s principle of homeostasis is likely at play. VEGF is responsible in the body for making new blood vessels. It may go down to offset the fact that exercise itself produces more blood vessels in tissue. PDGF has in part the same function, so again it’s likely being down regulated for the same reason. PDGF is also a potent stimulator of cell division as is exercise itself, so again this may be the body working hard to keep the repair response balanced. Moreover, a growth factor only works with a receptor on a cell and it could be that exercise increases the number of those receptors on cells, requiring less growth factor to get the same level of cell stimulation.

What does this mean for patients? It means growth factors, PRP, and exercise work in concert to promote optimal tissue regeneration. It also means that the timing of exercise, rehabilitation, and the use of regenerative therapies is crucial for success and needs to be carefully prescribed. The Regenexx proprietary form of PRP and platelet lysates has been extensively tested for various growth factor concentrations. So while a drop in certain growth factors with exercise might seem counter intuitive, it may just be the body’s way to offset for things like cells that work better when the “caffeine” of the body is introduced into the equation.

The specialists at Columbia Pain Management are experts in rehabilitation, therapeutic exercise, and using the latest regenerative medicine tools to promote tissue healing and reduce pain. Don’t be fooled by promises that a PRP injection will “fix” you. It is more complicated than that. The data show that you need a complete, customized, and orchestrated rehabilitation program that begins with the proper diagnosis, outlines specific exercises and activities, and prescribes the correct form and concentration of PRP, lysate, or stem cells for your condition. Columbia Pain Management is the only Center in Oregon using the proprietary Regenexx form of PRP that can be concentrated and dosed for your specific injury or condition. We are also the only Center combining the expertise of rehabilitation medicine with the science of regenerative medicine. If you are stuck, frustrated, or stymied by your lack of progress in recuperating from an injury, we might be able to help. Exercise is Medicine.

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