Prolotherapy treats chronic pain due to ligament and tendon instability and the resulting joint, muscle, nerve and structural dysfunctions.
Prolotherapy is helpful for what conditions?
The treatment is successful for most types of musculoskeletal pain, including degenerative joint conditions, arthritis, back pain, neck pain, fibromyalgia, sports injuries, yoga overstretching injuries, dislocations, unresolved whiplash injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic tendonitis, partially torn tendons, ligaments and cartilage, degenerated or herniated discs, TMJ, sciatica.
Prolotherapy also treats most pain conditions:
Hip pain, Knee pain, Ankle pain and foot pain, Wrist pain, Elbow pain, Shoulder pain, Headaches, TMJ (jaw) pain, Post Injury/Trauma Pain, Fibromyalgia, Myofascial conditions, Sports Injuries, Loose Joints, Tendonitis, Post fracture treatment, Rib Pain and more. In fact any joint, ligament or muscle tendon in the body that is experiencing pain can be treated with prolotherapy.
What is prolotherapy?
First, it is important to understand what the word prolotherapy itself means. "Prolo" is short for proliferation, because the treatment causes the proliferation (growth, formation) of new tissue in areas where it has become weak. Simply put, Prolotherapy consists of injecting a solution that promotes regeneration and healing onto damaged ligaments, tendons and joints.
Modern research has demonstrated this effect of stem cell stimulation of growth factors with Prolotherapy. Because of this, there is a movement to change the name of Prolotherapy to something more specific to its physiological action. Hence the term “Regenerative Injection Therapy” or RIT as it is increasingly referred to.
Ligaments are the structural "rubber bands" that hold bones to bones in joints. Ligaments can become weak, overstretched or injured and may not heal back to their original strength, length or endurance. This is largely because the blood supply to ligaments is limited, and therefore healing is slow and not always complete. To further complicate this, ligaments also have many nerve endings and therefore the person will feel pain at the areas where the ligaments are damaged or loose.
Tendons are the name given to tissue which connects muscles to bones, and in the same manner tendons may also become injured, and cause pain.
Prolotherapy uses a dextrose (sugar water) solution, which is injected into the ligament or tendon where it attaches to the bone. This causes a localized inflammation in these weak areas which then increases the blood supply and flow of nutrients and stimulates the tissue to repair itself.
How long will it take to complete a course of treatments?
The response to treatment varies from individual to individual, and depends upon one's healing ability and degree and chronicity of injury. Most people may only need a few treatments while others may need 10 or more depending on the degree and chronicity of injury. The average number of treatments is 3-6 for an area treated. The best thing to do is get an evaluation to see if you are an appropriate candidate. Once you begin treatment, you will understand how you are responding. To book an appointment for your evaluation contact the clinic directly.
Are you a candidate for Prolotherapy?
Any joint in the body can be treated successfully with prolotherapy. A simple "self diagnosis" for back pain would be to consider if you have the "theatre, cocktail party syndrome". Your back, leg, neck or other pain is worse when standing still, like at a cocktail party. When you go to sit down, there is some relief but if you sit for too long, like being at the theatre, the pain returns. When you wake up in the morning the pain is worse, and only relieved with movement. There may only be relief as long as you are active, returning once you rest. This is because when you are at rest, the muscles relax and it is the ligaments that are supporting the structure. If the ligaments are lax, then you are more susceptible to pain. Also passive stretching of ligaments or firm pressure on ligament sites may also be indications for prolotherapy. Of course, only a healthcare provider trained in prolotherapy can determine whether your condition would benefit from it or another method of treatment.
Published in the Times & Transcript Thursday, November 23, 2015.
Dr. Nicholas Anhorn, BSc, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor in Moncton, New Brunswick. Dr. Anhorn ND is currently accepting patients at the Moncton Naturopathic Medical Clinic.
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History of Prolotherapy
There are references to the use of Prolotherapy like therapies since the time of Pharaoh Amenhotep III in 1350 B.C. when cautery was used to treat animals. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, circa 400B.C. wrote about similar treatments given to wounded soldiers. There are also numerous references to similar techniques in Chinese and Tibetan medical records and even Western Veterinarian journals. The first record of injection proliferants into humans goes back to 1835 with a reference to Velpeau a French physician. Various other physicians had since used proliferants on animals and humans. Dr. Earl Gedney, an osteopath from Philadelphia was the first to use an injection to strengthen sacroiliac ligaments. Dr. George Hackett, a surgeon from Canton, Ohio, active in the late fifties, correlated pain patterns from the strained ligament with instability. He treated thousands of patients with ligament strengthening injections which he named Prolotherapy. He reported a 90% improvement in his patients.
It was Dr. Hackett who introduced the term “laxity of ligaments”. It is understood that in injury the ligaments are frayed and even torn. In the instances of bone fractures, ligaments usually tear before the bone breaks. It is thought, particularly in connection with the spine, that the ligaments become lax because of the shrinkage of the inter-vertebral discs and from direct stretching and damage to the ligaments themselves. Probably both mechanisms are active to different degrees in different people. It is important to also consider that ligaments are rich in pain sensitive nerve fibers and that any damage to them can be the direct cause of pain.
The Spine as a Common Site for Ligament Problems
The spine can be described as analogous to a pile of bricks bound together in a mobile column by the ligaments which tie each vertebra to its neighbour creating from this pile a strong and flexible support for the body. It is not surprising that this combination of mobility and support occasionally fails. Through stress, strain, or injury, ligaments can become stretched or weakened. When the ligaments do not hold the vertebrae in perfect alignment there is a tendency for one or more vertebrae to be displaced or rotated. When this happens the normally perfect and smooth movements can become stiff or "kinky" and the muscles react by contracting or going into spasm to protect the joint. The pelvis, spine, ribs, and neck are particularly prone to minor displacements between the connected joint structures. Chiropractors use the terminology of a "subluxation" to describe this.
Many patients have had the experience they describe as “having put my back out”. Correction with manipulation when properly done can give great relief and restore mobility and function. A common complaint, however, is the ongoing need for these corrections without long term resolution. The underlying cause for the recurrence of these subluxations and abnormal movements is ligament injury or relaxation. By the same token, lax ligaments cause muscles to tighten or spasm in an attempt to stabilize the dysfunctional joints. When repeated massage, trigger point release and other therapies have little lasting effect, one must look to a deeper cause, usually the ligament laxity. Many persons maintain stability by performing regular “core strengthening” exercises. Although it is necessary to have a strong core, if the ligaments are unstable and not holding the joints together, the core strength functions at best like a second tier of stability, helping the symptoms, but not fixing the problem. It is only when the ligaments are stabilized with Prolotherapy / RIT can the joint function normalize, the muscle tension relax and the spasms release.
Pain conditions that may be helped with Prolotherapy:
- Neck Pain
- Low Back Pain
- Leg pain
- Herniated Discs
- Hip pain
- groin injury (athlete's hernia)
- Knee pain
- Ankle pain and foot pain
- Wrist pain
- Elbow pain
- Shoulder pain
- Frozen shoulders
- Labral Tears
- TMJ (jaw) pain
- Post Injury/Trauma Pain
- Sports Injuries
- Yoga overstretch injuries
- Arthritis Pain
- Loose Joints
- Post fracture treatment
- Rib Pain
- Any joint pain in the body