Prolotherapy; A Regenerative Medicine
Prolotherapy is one of several modalities used in the rapidly growing field of Regenerative Medicine. Unlike anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals such as Cortisone or Prednisone, regenerative modalities are designed to activate and accelerate the body’s own natural healing capabilities. Regenerative modalities also include Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), Peptides and Stem Cell therapies.
Prolotherapy has been used successfully for almost 100 years. “Prolotherapy” comes from the word “proliferation”, because it causes a proliferation of healthy collagen-based connective tissues. Prolotherapy is especially useful in addressing areas that are painful due to ligament laxity from past injury such as ankles, shoulders, knees and the Sacroiliac joints. It can be used in joints throughout the body.
In Prolotherapy, we use a combination of Dextrose (sterile sugar water) and Lidocaine (a mild pain reliever) to stimulate tendon, ligament and joint tissue healing. These type of tissues usually lack a robust blood supply and often do not heal completely, leading to chronic ongoing pain where there was once an injury. You may have heard the phrase; “A sprain is worse than a break.” This is because ligament sprains often take a very long time to heal and often do not heal completely.
The Prolotherapy solution is injected using a very thin needle into the formerly injured area. The process usually involves multiple injections to fully address the problem area. Think of it like spot welding to add strength and stability. The Dextrose in the Prolotherapy solution is not toxic to the body but is still seen as a “foreign invader”. This causes the body to create a focused localized healing response, which is a crucial step in complete healing. After the Prolotherapy injections, the body regenerates by laying down more collagen to reinforce the injured area. The result is usually a decrease in pain and a renewed structural integrity.
Some people experience immediate pain relief post injection. Others feel better initially but may experience a modest increase in pain over the next few days. Still others say the Prolotherapy takes about 3 weeks for the regenerative process to fully click in. Regular activity can usually resume by the next day.
In Prolotherapy we are trying to create a focused inflammatory healing process. Therefore, we usually advise that patients stop all herbal anti-inflammatories such as Turmeric and all anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil or Aleve for several days prior to getting Prolotherapy and for a couple of weeks afterwards. Tylenol or a cold compress may be used for pain, if needed.
Prolotherapy is a stimulus for the body’s natural healing. As such, it may take more than one Prolotherapy session to achieve the maximum therapeutic benefit. Everybody and every injury is somewhat different. If an additional Prolotherapy session is needed, it is usually performed 2-4 weeks after the prior one.