What is Prolotherapy and how does it work?
It is a technique consisting of injecting tissue irritating substances, such as hypertonic glucose (sugar water), among others, into the tissues. These tissue irritating substances called prolifereants stimulate healing, tissue regeneration, and repair when injected into precise points called the enthesis. Basically, the enthesis is the point where tendons and ligaments attach to the bone. The prolifereant, when injected into these very precise points, stimulate tissues to proliferate (therefore the name Prolotherapy) and heal. When injuries occur, the area may not heal completely due to lack of proper treatment or poor blood supply. For this reason, ligaments, joints, and tendons heal very slowly and poorly. If left untreated or not treated correctly, damaged ligaments become loose, allowing bones in the joint to shift with excessive movements, causing pain, muscle spasms, and eventually arthritis. Aging can have the same effect. Arthritis occurs in the joints and spine as a result of instability in the structures supporting them. Prolotherapy can intervene by stabilizing the structures and decreasing the progression of pain, degeneration, and aging. When stretched, small nerve fibers in the damaged ligaments transmit pain impulses to the brain. Through a subconscious reflex, the surrounding muscles go into painful spasms in an attempt to stabilize the joint. This causes the region to feel tight, stiff, achy, burning, tingling, numb, fatigued and painful. The individual often notices painful knots in the surrounding muscles. These muscles become tight and painful as they try to compensate for the weak and damaged underlying structures. Spasms in the muscles decrease blood flow and nutrient delivery to the tissue, further contributing to the breakdown. Also, the chronic tension from the muscle in spasm leads to deterioration of the tendon attachments, leading to tendinosis (degeneration without inflammation). Not only is pain felt locally, but also it is referred to other areas. Injecting a stimulating solution the sites of the tissue breakdown stimulates the body’s own healing mechanism to repair and rebuild. This regenerative process leads to a stronger and more supportive structure.
Prolotherapy and the stages of healing after an injury.
1. INFLAMATORY STAGE: Occurs during the first week. There is increased blood flow, swelling,and discomfort as the healing process begins. Immune cells remove damaged and unhealthy tissue from the treated area.
2. FIBROBLASTIC STAGE: Starts about day three and continues for six weeks. Swelling and pain begin to subside. New blood vessels form with an improved blood and nutrient supply. Tissue repair cells (fibroblast) form new collagen, repairing the injured and unstable tissue.
3. MATURATION STAGE: Continues from six weeks to 18 month. New blood vessels mature. The tissues now become stronger with more organized and healthy fibers. Pain subsides. Collagen density and tissue strength increases. When the injured areas are injected with a Prolotherapy solution, a reaction begins, re-starting the three stage healing process described above. Studies have shown that the strength of the injected ligament can increase up to 40% above normal. Pain and muscles spasms decrease as stability increases. If during the three stages of the healing process, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), ice and or immobilization are used to reduce pain and inflammation, complete and normal healing will be inhibited. Most people are taught that inflammation is bad and don’t realize that, without inflammation, no healing will occur. Unfortunately, most physicians, when they see a patient with an injury immediately want to decrease the inflammation with elevation, ice and anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil, Aleve, etc. The end result is poor healing with weak loose joints and ligaments. Prolotherapy strengthens the joints, ligaments, and tendons, and decreases the pain by stimulating the body’s own repair and healing process. There is no covering up the pain as tissues heal naturally and become stronger, without forming scar tissue. Several treatments spaced apart by about two to six weeks are usually required to get the full benefits. Each treatment builds on the previous until the desired outcome is obtained. The procedure itself is a safe procedure when performed by a trained and highly skilled physician who has in-depth knowledge of the anatomy and experience using this injection technique. Prolotherapy does not “cure” every painful condition, nor always eliminate 100% of one’s pain. The vast majority of the patients who receive prolotherapy (usually two to ten sessions) will receive at least 50% relief of their pain. Many even report complete resolution of their pain after a series of treatments. It is also important to know that Prolotherapy treatment only strengthen tissues. Nostructure is weakened like when using cortisone and no scars are formed. Chronic problems do not occur overnight and they do not heal that way either.
Differences Between Prolotherapy and Cortisone shots.
Strengthens bone Yes No
Strengthens tendon-bone attachments Yes No
Strengthens muscles Yes No
Strengthens and rebuilds ligament tissue Yes No
Leads to progressive and harmful arthritic changes No Yes
Suppresses the immune system No Yes
Inhibits growth hormone No Yes
Inactivates Vitamin D No Yes
Inhibits calcium absorption in the digestive tract No Yes
Bad effects of cortisone shots.
Cortisone's bad effect include a lowering of the rate of full recovery and you are 67% more likely to have a relapse of your injury !
Cortisone shots can permanently damage bones, ligaments, muscles, cartilage, and tendons,resulting in a weakening of the joint and resultant degenerative joint disease (DJD), orosteoarthritis, osteoporosis, fractures, and muscle weakness. This structurally weakens the joint,increasing the production of more pain, which leads to more cortisone shots and eventually Surgery. Choose wisely!