Prolotherapy treatment (short for proliferation therapy treatment) is achieved through the injection of an irritant solution directly in the affected area of the body where connective tissue has been damaged or compromised through strain or injury. Connective tissue connects tendons to bone, and injections are administered there, and sometimes directly into joints. Treatment is typically every 2 – 4 weeks at first, then less frequently until therapy is no longer needed for the affected area. Connective tissue injuries are typically due to high-velocity impact, such as hard blow to the area or landing from a jump. However, connective tissue injuries can just as easily arise from overuse. These are known as repetitive use injuries, and are common in musicians and people who do manual labor. In prolotherapy treatment, the irritant solution stimulates the body into healing itself by encouraging blood flow and nutrients to flood the injured area. The irritant solution is natural and non-toxic, usually dextrose. Prolotherapy can also provide immediate relief by unkinking the fascia trigger points in the ligament or tendon.
Can Prolotherapy Help You?
Once you come in for an initial consultation at the Blatman Health and Wellness Center, one of our doctors will help you determine whether or not a course of regenerative injection therapy (another name for prolotherapy) is right for you. Some of the conditions typically helped by prolotherapy are chronic pain of the neck, shoulder, back, ankle or other joints, laxity of the ligaments (generally or due to an accident), unexpectedly dropping things, arthritis, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow and other chronic repetitive motion injuries. Prolotherapy treatment can also encourage cartilage repair. What’s more, used in trigger point injection therapy, prolotherapy is also used as a method of treatment for chronic myofascial pain.
Prolotherapy: Origins, Safety, and Side-Effects
Prolotherapy treatments, contrary to popular belief, are not a new form of regenerative therapy. In fact, its use has been traced back to Ahmenotep III’s reign in Egypt, where branding was used to repair injuries in lame animals. By the time of the Roman Republic, Hippocrates claims to have cauterized a dislocated shoulder with a hot poker in order to heal it. These would have been absolutely brutal experiences that are nothing like today’s prolotherapy treatments.
In the early 19th century, a doctor injected a patient with iodine to correct a hernia, and until the 1920’s, this was the main use of prolotherapy sessions. This eventually led to the first association for injection therapies, called The American Society of Herniologists. The term “prolotherapy” was coined in the mid-20th century when a doctor extrapolated the ASH’s knowledge of prolotherapy treatments in hernias to heal a severe thumb injury he’d suffered.
As we know, today’s forms of prolotherapy – injections of a inoculate substance at the site of the injury – are a long way from sticking a scalding iron rod into your shoulder. Side effects to today’s prolotherapy treatments are extremely rare, but may include pain at the injection site. Studies on the use of this procedure have shown it to be effective at reducing pain and promoting healing of injuries, all without long-term health risks that come with surgeries and pharmaceuticals.
How Effective is Prolotherapy?
Research studies indicate that 80% of patients who undergo this type of regenerative injection therapy experience good to excellent results. In fact in some cases, the treatment can completely cure their condition. Most people will experience noticeable improvement after the first session, and continued improvement thereafter.
If effective, such treatment can make it possible enjoy the simple pleasures of life again. Enjoy what you love doing — hiking, biking, sports, a healthy sex life. Life can be not only more livable, but actually enjoyable.
How Does Prolotherapy Work?
A combination of concentrated dextrose and local anesthetic is injected into the afflicted area. This solution naturally stimulates the body’s ability to heal, prompting the growth of new ligaments and fiber tendons. Treatments generally take 30 minutes. No surgery, anesthesia, or prolonged recovery are necessary. You don’t have to stay overnight in a hospital. Prolotherapy as a treatment alternative to injuries where surgical interventions are common, such as should problems, is much safer, less invasive, and encourages actual healing – it doesn’t just remove the damage or cover the symptoms the way surgeries and pharmaceuticals do.
Prolotherapy vs. PRP Treatments: What’s the Difference?
Both prolotherapy and PRP rely on injections to relieve muscle pain via internal healing, but the difference is in what is being injected. Prolotherapy injects dextrose, or sugar water, to increase healing of damaged tissue. PRP injects a concentrate of your own blood plasma that contains natural growth factors that induce and encourage healing. The other difference is the amount of treatments required. Prolotherapy is typically less effective and requires more sessions of injections. PRP works faster, requiring 1 to 3 treatment sessions in many cases. There is also stem cell therapy for pain, another type of injection therapy, which shares many of the same features as PRP therapy. Talk to your doctor about which option might be best for you. Each has different advantages and disadvantages, as well as differing costs. The two vital things they all share, though, is their regenerative abilities that encourage holistic healing, and their safety.