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Injection can help boomers stave off joint pain

Many of the millions of Americans approaching retirement age are looking to stay active as they get older, but sometimes health complications like arthritis can get in the way. However, thanks to an innovative treatment, baby boomers may be able to significantly reduce joint pain so they can continue to golf, bike and run, ABC News reports.

The treatment is called  platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections, which work by giving patients a shot containing their own PRP. A number of studies have shown that the material has benefits when it comes to repairing damaged cartilage and joints.

It was this procedure that came to the rescue of Aviva Gianetti. The New Jersey native is in her late 50s and plays tennis and golf and was told that she may need surgery to alleviate the pain in her arms. However, she was opposed to surgery and opted for PRP injections. Not too soon after, she was back on the links.

Doctors say that PRP treatments will likely become increasingly important as the estimated 78 million baby boomers look to stay active as they get older. Still, despite the optimistic findings, experts say it is not a complete substitute for surgery and may only buy time.

"This is certainly, potentially one treatment option that may be utilized, but it's not the magic bullet," Dr. Laith Jazrawi, chief of sports medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, told ABC. "To offer these things to patients and potentially tell them that we may have the treatment that may prevent you from getting a knee replacement is really silly."

Though it may not be a perfect replacement for surgery, it could stave off the growing amount of boomer women who are expected to need total knee replacements in the coming years. A separate ABC News story found that knee replacements in women between the ages of 45 and 64 have nearly tripled in the last 10 years. The trend is indicative of the tendency of boomers to be more active than older adults of the past.

Homeowners at Del Webb Naples have plenty of opportunities to stay active while putting less pressure on their joints and cartilage. Along with a fitness pool and plenty of walking trails, the community offers pickle ball classes and clubs, which is significantly easier on joints than other sports like tennis.

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