Prolotherapy is a non-surgical method of treating chronic pain around ligaments and joints. The term is coined from a two-word phrase: proliferation therapy. It involves the proliferation or rapid increase in the amount of cartilage and collagen produced in some parts of the body. People feel pain when their bodies respond to torn or weak tissues that do not receive enough blood. The proliferation of collagen or cartilage strengthens the affected parts and thereby eliminates the pain.
Damaged ligaments allow bones to swing out of alignment. The surrounding muscles tighten reflexively as they try to stabilize the affected joint, and the spasms created cause pain. The muscle spasms also reduce the flow of blood into the affected areas, which causes further pain.
Under normal circumstances, damaged ligaments, tendons and muscles go through a self-healing process that takes between four and six weeks. However, there are instances when this normal process does not take place, especially when the affected soft tissues do not receive enough blood for regeneration. Connective tissues generally heal slowly and often fail to heal completely because of either improper treatment or poor blood supply.
People often try different treatments to alleviate chronic pain but their conditions usually recur. Some methods used slow the natural healing process or even mask the problem. However, proliferation therapy solves the problem permanently.
How It Works
Little quantities of irritants like concentrated glucose are injected into the affected parts, leading to localized inflammation. The inflammation encourages more blood flow into the area, which leads to increased supply of nutrients and oxygen that encourage healing. The inflammation subsides as newly formed collagen shrinks and tightens the painful structures, resulting in increased stability and reduced pain.
The most basic irritant solution contains dextrose or natural sugar and an anesthetic.
A patient who receives a series of injections gets long-term improvement. In general, patients need between four and six treatments although the number of injections will depend on a patient and the type of injury treated.
The injections may be administered directly into injured joints or the sites where tendons and ligaments attach to the bones, which are the weakest links.
This treatment method is good because it encourages the natural healing process of the body. The body does not have to suffer the damaging effects of surgery and medications. The skill of the physician and technique used determine the effectiveness of treatment.
The process treats chronic pain in three stages:
- Inflammatory stage takes place in the first week. More blood flows into the affected area as inflammation and pain increase. Immune cells start removing damaged tissue.
- Fibroblastic stage starts on the second or third day and continues for six weeks. New blood vessels and collagen form as inflammation subsides.
- Maturation stage starts from the sixth week and may continue for 18 months. New tissue and vessels mature as collagen density increases.
A Little History
People have applied prolotherapy injections in treating chronic musculoskeletal pain for centuries. For example, Hippocrates was known to heat needles that he used to treat javelin throwers who suffered from chronic shoulder dislocations way back in the 5th Century B.C.
Physicians from the Midwest improved on the technique when they discovered that they could bring long-term healing by injecting people suffering from chronic pain with an irritant.
Find out more about how to get Prolotherapy, a non surgical treatment to scar tissue removal and joint reconstruction. Aspen Integrative Medicine in Aspen specializes in Prolotherapy and Prolozone treatments for the Aspen Valley and western regions and treats patients from Grand Junction to Denver and around the world.
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