Prolotherapy is the simplest form of Regenerative Medicine. After the experience of a decade in treating pain and after long-term use and evaluation of all of the interventional procedures, medications and alternative medicine (eg acupuncture) for the treatment of pain, both in Greece and overseas, we have chosen Prolotherapy as the baseline of our therapeutic approach in our clinic. It is an effective method for the treatment of the problem – not only symptomatic treatment – without substantial side effects.
What is prolotherapy
Prolotherapy is a minimal invasive technique that aims to restore injured or degenerated tissue by activating the natural healing mechanism of the body. It is performed by injections precisely at the points of the anatomical lesions (usually at the points that tendons and ligaments are attached to the bones). The injections contain solutions which are pharmacologically inert and are not causing side effects. In prolotherapy, by definition, we are not using steroids or anti-inflammatories and it is safely applied to people who can not make use of medication due to allergy or hepatic, renal insufficiency, or simply because they are already taking several medications. Prolotherapy is historically the first and simplest form of Regenerative Medicine.
Where does the term come from
The term prolotherapy emanates from the English term proliferation therapy that means multiplicative treatment. The method has been shaped in its current form mainly by Hackett and Hemwall during the 1950’s in the US. It has been applied since 2005 from the doctors of Mayo Clinic, who characteristically report that “… contrary to the injections of cortisone, that offer provisional comfort, prolotherapy causes improvement of the tissue activating its rebirth”.
How it heals
The injections cause local stimulus which activates the natural mechanism of self-healing and leads to the generation of new conjunctive tissue (collagen), that is the structural component of the body. The new collagen surrounds the wounded tissue and thus hardens it. In regard to musculoskeletal problems, after the treatment, tendons, ligaments , and cartilage have been strengthened with new tissue and are more robust. In certain cases it is reported that they are hardened 40% more than the corresponding healthy ones. Thus, prolotherapy is not only pain relieving but therapeutic as well, as it restores the damaged tissue which caused pain.
Where it applies
Prolotherapy is very effective for the treatment of acute and chronic pain, and in diseases of the musculoskeletal system of either traumatic or degenerative etiology. It displays excellent results in injuries, arthritis, neuropathic pain, neuralgia, lumbago, neck pain, neurological problems, etc.
How we apply prolotherapy in our pain clinic
As it has already been stated, the treatment is done with a series of injections in locations that damage is observed. However, our extensive experience in the treatment of pain, enables us to incorporate elements from other minimal invasive techniques during Prolotherapy sessions in order to achieve even better results. These techniques are: trigger point injections, neural prolotherapy, nerve release, central or peripheral nervous shut-off, perineural infiltrations, calcifications dissolution, and removal of debris.
The injections do not hurt much and are usually well received by most patients. However, If someone is too sensitive or an extensive treatment is to be performed, then prior to the treatment we provide local anesthesia to the locations that the injections are to be applied.
Prolotherapy may be performed under ultrasound guidance to achieve maximum results. Musculoskeletal Ultrasound allows us to guide the needle precisely into the human body and apply the injections to the exact location of the damage.
In addition, ultrasound enables us to compare the condition of tissues and components of the musculoskeletal system of the patient before the initiation of the treatments and during the implementation of the treatment plan. In this way, we are able to monitor the progress of the patient with objective criteria and further optimize the application of the method.
Read more about the musculoskeletal ultrasound.
The results of Prolotherapy appear in two phases. Immediately after the treatment, it displays a direct effect, but the greater and permanent results appear after 4 to 8 weeks (in some cases may and 12 weeks) after the treatment. This is due to the way that the treatment works. Once again it is mentioned that in Prolotherapy we do not use pain killers, anti-inflammatory or foreign additives to correct the damaged tissue, but motivate the body to generate its own tissue and that takes time to achieve.
Read more about prolotherapy in the following articles:
2. Applications of Prolotherapy: Prolotherapy and the pain in the lower back (with or no reflection in leg)