Osteoarthritis affects more than 30 million American adults. For some who have tried multiple treatments and still live in pain, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections may be the answer. The treatment is considered experimental by insurance companies for use in the knee, but for Loree Bolin, they’re a game changer. Bolin, 62, is a nine-time IRONMAN triathlon finisher and relies on these injections to keep her running with osteoarthritis. This is her story, as told to Kristen Domonell.
I ran my first marathon when I was a dental student at the University of Washington in 1980. Since then, I’ve been hooked. I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world competing in IRONMAN triathlons—a race with a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon (26.22-mile) run—all around the world. I’m training for my 10th, the IRONMAN World Championship, in Kona, Hawaii in October. And I’ve shared my love of running and recreational sports with children in Tanzania through my non-profit, Health & Hope Foundation.
But it hasn’t always been a “run” in the park. I have genetic osteoarthritis in my knees, and the pain has been unbearable at times. It’s hard for me to pinpoint when exactly my discomfort started, but I can remember a nagging pain as far back as when my son, who is 28, was in middle school. Over the years, I tried physical therapy several different times, every different knee brace I could get my hands on and cortisone injections. But all of my tricks were no longer working.
The straw that broke the camel’s back came during a ski trip in 2012. There was perfect snow and I had to bail and go home because my knees hurt too badly. When you’re an athlete, to have to call it quits on a beautiful ski day is just terrible.