Prolotherapy is a non surgical treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain. The treatment causes growth of new ligament tissue, which is why it is called non surgical ligament reconstruction. The problems most often treated are arthritis, fibromyalgia, sports injuries, whiplash, carpal tunnel syndrome, torn tendons, cartilage and ligaments, chronic tendonitis, herniated or degenerated discs, sciatica and TMJ.
Ligaments are like rubber bands and hold bones together in joints. Once they are injured, they become weak and do not heal with the same strength and elasticity as they had before the injury. Healing is usually slow and not complete, because the blood supply to ligaments is limited. Ligaments have many nerve endings, which is why injuries are so painful.
Tendons connect muscles to bones and can also receive very painful injuries. Some of the things practitioners look for in a patient to determine if this is the right treatment are:
- Ligament laxity or loose ligaments
- Tenderness at the points where ligaments or tendons attach to the bone
- Small sounds such as clicking, popping, grinding in joints
- Swelling that chronically recurs in joints or muscles
- Burning or aching pain that transfers to a lower or upper extremity
- Face pain, jaw pain, ear pain or headache that recurs
- Pain where the ribs attach to the spine or sternum
- Chronic, unresolved back pain even after surgery or chiropractic care
When the tissues are injured, the natural response is inflammation of the injured area. This stimulates blood flow to carry the substances in the blood that stimulate growth and healing. Masking the pain with anti-inflammatory medications or suppressing the inflammation with corticosteroids may offer temporary relief, but they will not promote healing. Most people are surprised to learn that the body heals itself through inflammation.
The aim of prolotherapy is to reactivate the healing process and provide permanent benefit. It does this through a series of injections that contain a mildly irritating substance, which is usually a solution of concentrated sugar together with the painkiller lidocaine. This creates a low-grade inflammation which in turn causes the body to start its natural healing process. For certain injuries, growth factors may be injected.
The response in the body is a strengthening of loose ligaments and tendons. It can also strengthen the fibrous connective tissue around an area of damaged cartilage, which will then begin to support the degenerated cartilage. This is an added benefit, because damaged cartilage does not normally repair itself.
The new tissue growth in ligaments and tendons has been seen is studies with laboratory animals. There have also been studies that show the healing of defects in cartilage in animals.
This treatment will not correct mechanical problems such as changes in joints due to arthritis or spinal stenosis. However, in the case of arthritis, it can eliminate or greatly reduce pain by tightening the connective tissues that support the joint.
The time it takes to see results depends on the healing ability of the individual and their injury or problem. Treatments can vary in number from three or four to ten or more. Most people take four to six treatments to feel results. Only after beginning treatments and having a doctor see the response from the body, will the doctor be able to judge how many treatments will be needed for full recovery. For the right results, it is important to have a well-qualified professional perform the treatment.
Find out more about how to get Prolo Therapy, a non surgical treatment to scar tissue removal and joint reconstruction. Aspen Integrative Medicine in Aspen specializes in Prolotherapy and Prolozone treatments for the Rocky Mountain region and treats patients from Grand Junction to Denver and around the world.
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