A2M injections are growing in popularity in the fields of sports medicine and other motion therapy fields. Primarily used to help treat arthritis, these injections also help protect against various proteins that lead to non-arthritic joint pain as well. In order to see if you should schedule an appointment with an injury specialist for injections, it’s important to understand how A2M works and if it might be right for you.
How It Works
A2M, or Alpha 2 Macroglobulin, naturally occurs throughout your body. A2M binds with protease, an enzyme responsible for breaking down proteins and peptides, and then the A2M and bound protease are removed from the body via normal processes. This all sounds well and good, but if A2M is naturally occurring in the body, why doesn’t it just work on its own and why do people need injections? The problem is that A2M is a fairly large compound, and with its size and complexity, it has trouble making its way to the disc space of joints like elbows and knees. Injecting the A2M directly into the joint space helps get around this issue, letting it remove excess destructive peptides that break down tissues and lead to joint pain. Since certain forms of arthritis are accelerated by excess peptides and other enzymes being released to break down cartilaginous tissue that acts as shock absorbers in the joints, A2M therapy can help slow down this process dramatically.
Administering A2M is a simple process that takes about an hour. It’s completely non-invasive and starts with a simple blood draw. After drawing some blood, the doctor will separate the blood sample via centrifuge, separating it into red cells, white cells, and plasma. The plasma is the important part of this process, as that will be separated again via centrifuge so they can extract the yellow plasma. The yellow plasma will have the A2M added to it since the yellow plasma will act as a sort of carrier for the A2M. From there, the doctor will inject the A2M into the joint and let it work its magic. Patients often feel same-day relief, and the injections can also help with joint preservation as it stops the excess breakdown of bone and cartilage in the joints.
What Are Common Treatment Sites
Since A2M has difficulty accessing the joint capsule, it’s most commonly administered directly into the joint space of various joints. It’s usually administered into joints that either are put under a lot of stress from high wear and tear or are common sites afflicted with OA such as the knees or elbows. Another common site of injection is into the intervertebral discs of the spine, especially in patients with degenerative disc disease or those who have residual pain from a slipped disk.
Many patients show signs of almost immediate pain relief, leading to higher activity levels and a more functional lifestyle uninhibited by pain. This makes sense since the A2M directly targets the enzymes that break down cartilage, slowing the progression of OA. A2M injections reduce pain, therefore allowing for more movement of the joint. Since the movement of the joint consequently lubricates the joint capsule, this further helps improve joint movement and reduce pain. Medical studies have shown that administering A2M cultures from humans on mice post-meniscectomy reduced further cartilaginous degradation. The prospects for A2M treatment are very promising, and while not some miracle panacea for anyone with joint pains, it can certainly offer marked relief for those who are a good fit for the treatment.
Who Is A Good Candidate
It’s possible to test for the various proteins that A2M treatments work best against, and are usually tested for via bloodwork before going in for the actual injections. Since A2M therapy helps with general joint pain as well, just being in severe or chronic pain might be an indication that A2M treatments are a good fit for you. Many sports medicine doctors perform the protein tests as a precursor to treatment anyway though, so you can always confirm the treatment is right for you during a consultation.
If you’re suffering from chronic joint pain, osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint conditions, you may want to contact sports medicine Portland for more information on getting a consultation for A2M treatments and if they’re right for you. The research has shown it can be an effective treatment and can not only help with reducing joint pain but also curbing the effects of OA. A2M is also naturally occurring in your body, so you don’t have to worry about any kind of reactions to drugs, chemical side effects, or other complications. If it sounds like A2M treatments might help with your pain, reach out to a sports medicine doctor today.