Prolotherapy and Chronic Pain
It is not a secret that chronic musculoskeletal pain is the number one cause of chronic disability in North America. Nor is it a secret that chronic back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under the age of 45. What is a secret is that this rampaging epidemic of pain can conceivably be eliminated in 80-90% of sufferers. Prolotherapy, a treatment that relies on the body's own healing process to eliminate pain, is not among the traditionally accepted modes of pain therapy, although it is gaining in acceptance. The conventional and prevailing model of pain management relies on anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections, a course of therapies that has provided little in the way of comfort for chronic pain sufferers and whose long term use has been warned against by many medical organizations. In fact, many traditional pain specialists are discouraging the chronic use of drugs, as they may be detrimental to the patient by adding to depression, increasing pain, and producing other side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers.
Unfortunately, the current vogue among traditional pain therapists is to recommend a combination of some sort of NSAID, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, bed rest, and small amounts of muscle relaxants over a short time. To that, some clinicians add massage, manipulative or physical therapy. These treatments provide some relief, but do not cure the underlying problem.
If these therapies prove ineffective and pain persists, a full neurological examination may be ordered, including an x-ray of the spinal cord called a myelogram, to check for ruptured discs or other sources of pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. If damage is found, surgery may be recommended, although surgery is not a guarantee of pain alleviation. Even with such poor results, modern medicine continues to search for drugs, devices and surgical procedures to eliminate chronic pain.
Caring Medical’s approach to chronic pain
Why Does Prolotherapy Work? Prolotherapy was developed in the 1940's by Dr. George Hackett. Prolotherapy stimulates the body to repair painful areas. Dr. Hauser and the team at Caring Medical have proven Prolotherapy’s effectiveness in a wide-range of conditions, including pain associated with the back, the neck, all joints throughout the body, arthritis, migraines, fibromyalgia, sciatica, herniated discs, and TMJ. Most neck, back and other musculoskeletal pain is due to weakness of ligaments and tendons. Since ligaments and tendons are the connective tissues that hold our muscles to bone, and bone to bone, both must be taut and strong. Dr. Hauser has been able to utilize Prolotherapy to strengthen injured weak ligaments – which is the underlying reason for much of the chronic pain in the world.
Pain results when weak ligaments and tendons cause the joints to become "unstable." Vertebrae in the back, for example, begin to slip, move and rotate from their proper position, causing pressure on the nerves. Limited results in pain alleviation are achieved with cortisone and other anti-inflammatory agents; in addition, they do not address the cause of the pain. Temporary pain suppression is not a cure for the underlying problem: ligament and tendon weakness. We find that Prolotherapy is the long-term solution to chronic pain because it strengthens the ligaments and tendons so they can move the vertebrae back into their proper places in the case of back pain.
Prolotherapy involves the injection of an "irritant" solution into the area where the ligaments have either been weakened or damaged through injury. The injections are given at the points where the ligaments connect to the bones. With these injections, the Prolotherapy doctor causes the body to heal itself through the process of inflammation.
When an irritant is introduced at the site of injury the immune system is summoned to the area. The body begins a healing process exactly where the painful areas are located. New fibrous tissue is laid, repairing and strengthening the ligaments so that they can pull the vertebrae back where they belong and alleviate pain. The same occurs when Prolotherapy is administered to the joints or any other ligaments in the body.
How many treatments are needed to be effective? Prolotherapy treatment sessions are generally given every four to six weeks to allow time for the growth of the new connective tissue. Patients usually require four to six treatment sessions for complete recovery, some require less.
Standard medical and surgical procedures cannot match Prolotherapy’s 80-90% effectiveness in eliminating chronic pain, nor can standard medicine match the relative low cost of treatment. Prolotherapy treatments can cost a fraction of the cost of a surgical procedure, and requires far less “down time” after the procedure and no long rehabilitation times.
Why is Prolotherapy still relatively unknown?
The position taken by the American Association of Orthopaedic Medicine (AAOM), says that the teaching of Prolotherapy is suppressed in medical schools and residency training programs because there are organizations who have a vested interest in continuing traditional treatment methods (surgery and drug therapies). That may definitely be part of the issue. Only God knows. But the patients are uniting and they are determined to get help for their painful condition. No longer are they willing to just pop some pain pills and keep doing so ad infinitum – only because their insurance company will cover that form of treatment.
Prolotherapy has been shown to be effective at eliminating the pain of such conditions as arthritis, migraines, tension headaches, sports injuries, fibromyalgia, loose joints, TMJ Syndrome, tendinitis, sciatica, herniated discs and degenerated joints.
There are currently about 500-600 physicians who practice Prolotherapy in the United States. With its rise in popularity, however, this number has been quickly increasing. A number of universities train physicians in the use of Prolotherapy. A number of musculoskeletal pain medical societies offer Prolotherapy training seminars are they are going strong! The Journal of Prolotherapy, Practical Pain Management, and other journals, have published numerous studies related to the effectiveness of using Prolotherapy for pain. It is definitely cutting edge and on the rise.