The dreaded injury.
Perhaps you are an athlete or your doctor told you to exercise for your health or you are working on a weight loss program. Whatever the case may be this injury is slowing you down and preventing you from achieving your goals. With any injury, rest, physical therapy and rehabilitative exercises are important to getting active again. In some cases, prolotherapy can help you get back moving again.
What is prolotherapy?
Prolotherapy is an injection technique that is designed to stimulate self healing mechanisms (cells from the immune system) to an area of chronic injury, or unhealthy inflammation, that is creating pain and dysfunction. The solution injected is composed of dextrose (sugar) and a local anesthetic. This solution creates a mildly irritant effect, which contributes to the recruitment of immune/inflammatory cells to the area. The result is a reduction in pain and an improvement in function.
How do I know if prolotherapy is for me?
Prolotherapy is best used for chronic pain, overuse injuries, arthritis, and any type of joint instability. Joint instability can come from ligament tears, sprains, poor posture, trauma such as car accidents, and even stress. Prolo helps to improve joint stability by improving the function of ligaments that surround the joint. This improvement in stability allows the surrounding muscles to relax and restores normal functioning to many of the structures involved in joint stability. The result is less pain and improved function.
Prolotherapy is used for most areas of the body. More commonly treated areas include ankles, knees, wrists, elbows, and backs. Although having been used in clinical practice for several decades, prolotherapy has only more recently been subject to high quality research studies. Decades of exciting clinical results are now being supported by exciting research results. Here are a few areas that are becoming well supported in the literature:
- Knee arthritis (2, 3, 4)
- Knee ligament injury (5)
- TMJ (6)
- Tennis elbow (7, 8)
- Achilles injury (9)
- Plantar faciitis (10)
- Prolotherapy versus cortisone (11, 12)
How is this different than a cortisone injection?
The mechanism of prolotherapy versus cortisone is quite the opposite. Cortisone is highly effective at shutting down immune function in the area of injection which works very well to decrease pain and inflammation. Prolotherapy on the other hand is thought to work by creating inflammation and recruiting more immune cells to the area of injury. We need inflammatory cells such as growth factors and fibroblasts to help restore damaged tissue. Without inflammation we would not be able to recover from injury. The concern with cortisone is what the long term effects are of slowing immune function in that area.
Although we do need more research in this area, preliminary studies show long-term outcomes with prolotherapy may be superior to cortisone (11, 12). Presumably this effect is due to prolotherapy’s action of supporting healthy immune function to an area of injury rather than inhibiting it.
With prolotherapy gaining more credibility in the scientific community, we may see this therapy take a central role in the treatment of musculoskeletal issues in future years. If you are sidelined right now, why not consider adding prolotherapy into your treatment plan to help you get moving again?
Dr Meaghan’s mission is to inspire others to higher levels of health and wellness. She does this by sharing the simplicity of natural medicine with the profound results of modern natural therapies. Her goal is to help determine the cause of a person’s symptoms and illness and work with them to achieve an optimal state of health and wellness. She works with individuals who are ready to take an active role in their own healthcare.