Prolotherapy Can Help Aches and Pains
Prolotherapy Can Help Aches and Pains
You may not have heard of prolotherapy, but it could be the answer to your muscle, tendon, ligament and joint pain. Prolotherapy works by repairing, or more specifically re-growing the affected tissue – the name comes from the word “proliferate”, i.e. to grow. The treatment involves the injection of medication composed from natural compounds into the injured ligaments and tendons, stimulating the growth of new tissue and thus helping to heal the cause of the pain.
The development of prolotherapy
Prolotherapy was first developed and studied in the 1930s by the surgeon Earl Gedney, who caused severe damage to his own hand after catching it in a door at the hospital where he was working. His colleagues told him there was no way of rectifying the damage, but faced with the prospect of being unable to carry on as a surgeon, Dr. Gedney decided he wasn’t going to give up. He investigated the work of a group of hernia specialists, who had been successfully repairing tissues in hernia patients using irritant solutions to stimulate the natural repair functions of the body. Dr. Gedney then used this knowledge to inject his own thumb with good results, and went on to develop and test the treatment for use in patients.
Healing tendons and ligaments
Ligaments and tendons are often spoken of as if they were the same thing, and they are indeed very similar. The difference is that ligaments connect bones to other bones, whereas tendons connect bones to muscles. Prolotherapy helps ligaments and tendons to heal, so the muscles and joints they attach to benefit from the regrowth of these vital connective tissues. The treatment is particularly effective for chronic back, joint, shoulder and neck pain; osteoarthritis in the joints; sprains and strains in the ligaments and tendons; fascial injures such as plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the plantar fascia tissue in the foot, that causes pain in the heel area), and even bursa related pains such as bursitis (inflammation of the bursa, the sac containing synovial fluid that lubricates joints). Common conditions include sports injuries, fibromyalgia, hypermobility and osteoarthritis.
The first stage is to pinpoint the exact area that needs to be treated. At Piedmont Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, we use diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasound to assess each patient’s needs before starting the treatment. Very thin needles are used for the injections, so there should be minimal pain involved, and the physicians at PPMR are experts in this field of treatment so you will be in safe hands. The procedure has been in use for many years, and has an excellent safety record when properly administered. As it involves the use of substances that stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities, it is effectively just kick-starting the normal process of repair and re-growth. Several different medications can be used for prolotherapy, but at PPMR we most often use Xylocaine and 50% Dextroes. These substances stimulate the production of prostaglandin, which is the body’s natural healer; thereby the affected tissues are repaired via the natural wound healing process.
Your doctor will talk you through the procedure and answer any questions you have at your consultation. PPMR staff are highly experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to prolotherapy, and will advise you honestly on whether the treatment could help you, as well as discussing other regenerative therapy options such as platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy, percutaneous tenotomy, and stem cell therapy. Once your course of treatment has been agreed on, you will typically need several injections, usually three per area to be effective once every two to three weeks. Animal model biopsies taken after treatment and follow up diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasound studies in patients who have been treated have demonstrated that prolotherapy works as intended, with re-growth of injected tissues having been documented. However, like a scab that heals skin, don’t expect to feel the difference immediately, wound healing takes time. The healing and regeneration process will have been initiated by the treatment, but your body still has to finish the job, which will take a while – just like any healing process.