Selfless, heroic actions, both throughout her career and in the days and weeks following 9/11, have left 52-year-old retired New York City Transit Police Officer Carol Paukner with a host of medical conditions. Among them, chronic knee pain resulting from injuries sustained during rescue and recovery efforts that ultimately led her to receive the NYPD’s Medal of Valor in recognition of her extraordinary acts of courage without regard for her own personal safety.
Eager to find a minimally invasive therapy that could offer her some relief from the knee pain she endures each day, Ms. Paukner was excited to learn about an innovative technique called PRP therapy, offered to her by her pain management specialist, Edward S. Rubin, MD, a board-certified anesthesiologist and the Director of Chronic Pain Medicine at NYU Winthrop Hospital.
A PRP injection is performed by drawing a patient's own blood and then spinning it in a centrifuge in the office to separate out the platelets and the plasma. The PRP is then typically injected back into a joint in order to kick start the healing process and start joint regeneration, ultimately resulting in reduced pain.
Dr. Rubin has extensive experience in pain management, having completed a fellowship in Pain Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and training at Columbia University, the Hospital for Special Surgery and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Often working in collaboration with NYU Winthrop’s orthopedic surgeons to help patients manage their pain, Dr. Rubin specializes in the treatment of pain in the joints and spine, chronic pain of the low back and neck, and muscle pain related to sports injuries. He emphasizes the use of non-narcotic techniques when appropriate.
"PRP, or Platelet Rich Plasma, is a regenerative technique whereby your body's own healing substances are separated from your blood and injected back into your body at the point of the tissue damage causing you pain," said Dr. Rubin.
A PRP injection is performed by drawing a patient's own blood and then spinning it a centrifuge in the office to separate out the platelets and the plasma. The PRP is then typically injected back into a joint in order to kick start the healing process and start joint regeneration, ultimately resulting in reduced pain.
"Typically, patients begin to see improvement in two to three weeks. Additional treatments may be warranted, occasionally for up to three total treatments," said Dr. Rubin. "Relief can last upwards of three years and beyond in our experience."
The effects of Ms. Paukner’s first PRP injection earlier this year were evident rather quickly.
"It gave me the relief I needed to function," she said. "I can walk up and down stairs without pain and just lead a normal daily life."
Dr. Rubin says that PRP is competing with cortisone shots or visco supplement injections in the joints as PRP doesn’t have the same potentially negative effects such as elevated blood sugar and weight gain. Patients don’t have to endure other forms of treatment and can begin PRP therapy as a first line of treatment for their pain.
"PRP therapy is an ideal treatment for sports injuries and sprains. It has been used by professional athletes because there are no steroids involved. It will not work, however, in a joint replacement patient as there is no tissue to regenerate," added Dr. Rubin.
Ms. Paukner anticipates undergoing a second injection in the weeks ahead and feels confident that PRP therapy is just what she needed at this point in her life.
"Instead of having to undergo an invasive surgery, I am using my own body to heal itself. What could be better?"
For more information about pain management services at NYU Winthrop, call 1-866-WINTHROP or visit www.winthrop.org.