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Caring Medical &
Rehabilitation Services


Chicagoland office
715 Lake Street, Suite 600
Oak Park, IL 60301

Southwest Florida office
9738 Commerce
Center Court
Fort Myers, FL 33908

708.393.8266 Phone
855.779.1950 Fax

Treatment of Immobilization Syndrome

Immobilization, also known as stress deprivation, refers to the lack of movement of specific areas of the body. It can occur as the result of an accident, an injury and is one of the components of the typical modern medical sports injury treatment regime called RICE. RICE involves rest, ice, compression and elevation, in which rest and elevation immobilize the injured area. Immobilization syndrome refers to the results of short-term as well as long-term immobilization. It includes very stiff joints, muscle atrophy, joint degeneration and chronic pain. Immobilization syndrome is a painful component of conditions such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSDS), osteoarthritis and frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis.

How does immobilization syndrome develop?

Immobilization is extremely detrimental to the body’s joints and ligaments. It causes the following changes to occur inside the joints:

  • proliferation of fatty connective tissue
  • cartilage damage and necrosis
  • scar tissue formation and articular cartilage tears
  • increased randomness of the collagen fibers within the ligaments and connective tissues
  • ligament weakening, with a decreased resistance to stretch

Immobilization of an injured joint, such as the knee, causes the area to become weaker and thinner, which can lead to a stiff joint. This is due to a combination of adhesions in the joint and/or shortening of the ligaments, and weakening of the site where ligaments and tendons insert to bone.

Injuries are not the only culprits that lead to immobilization. Inactivity is another, one that can particularly affect the elderly. For example, an activity as simple as walking can nourish the joints in the hips and the knees. Inactivity, on the other hand, can lead to a vicious spiral of disuse, no nourishment to the hip and knee joints, cartilage degeneration and pain, which leads to even less movement and makes the likelihood of starting an activity even slimmer, resulting in a downward spiral of joint deterioration and pain.

The Response of Modern Medicine

Since immobilization syndrome involves joint pain, stiffness and, potentially, cartilage and joint degeneration similar to osteoarthritis, modern medical treatment may also be quite similar, and involve the standard practice of injecting steroids into the affected joint, or to prescribe anti-inflammatory medications. However, in the long run, these treatments do more damage than good. Although cortisone shots and anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to produce short-term pain benefit, both result in long-term loss of function and even more chronic pain by actually inhibiting the healing process of soft tissues and accelerating cartilage degeneration. Plus, long-term use of these drugs can lead to other sources of chronic pain, allergies and leaky gut syndrome. Furthermore, this approach does nothing to repair the deteriorated cartilage, tendons and ligaments that may be involved and, thus, does not alleviate the chronic pain that people with this condition experience

When all else fails, patients who experience chronic pain as a result of immobilization syndrome are usually referred to a surgeon. Unfortunately, surgery often makes the problem worse. Surgeons will use x-ray technology as a diagnostic tool, which does not always properly diagnose the pain source. In addition, decisions to remove cartilage tissue will most commonly result in arthritis.

The Natural Medicine Approach to Immobilization Syndrome

A better approach is to increase activity in the joint or joints involved, stretch the joint and, if the immobilization syndrome is a result of an injury, to apply Prolotherapy treatments as well as herbal supplements to repair the area.

Not surprisingly, it has been shown that the more a specific joint is exercised, the stronger the bone-ligament and bone-tendon complexes become. Exercise specifically helps strengthen the fibro-osseous junction, which is where the ligament/tendon and bone attach to each other, and which, incidentally, is the area where Prolotherapy treatments are administered. Controlled activity and stretching is therefore an important part not only of healing an injury, but also of preventing injuries.

Movement and gentle range-of-motion exercises improve blood flow to the affected area, removing debris. If movement of the joint is painful, isometric exercises, which involve contracting a muscle without moving the affected joint, would be recommended. This is why the RICE treatment protocol typically used for soft tissue injuries, where R stands for rest and E for elevation, which “spell” immobilization, is so detrimental to healing. Ligaments are especially sensitive to immobility. Thus, immobilization is not recommended for any type of ligament tear of sprain in which the joint itself is stable.

Although immobilization syndrome can be the result of any one of a number of other conditions, injuries are the most common. If this is the case, Prolotherapy to the injured area will strengthen the weakened and/or injured ligaments and tendons and even cause cartilage regeneration. Chronic pain is most commonly due to tendon weakness, ligament weakness or cartilage deterioration. The safest and most effective natural medicine treatment for repairing tendon, ligament and cartilage damage is Prolotherapy. In simple terms, Prolotherapy stimulates the body to repair painful areas. It does so by inducing a mild inflammatory reaction in the weakened ligaments and cartilage. Since the body heals by inflammation, Prolotherapy stimulates healing.

Prolotherapy offers the most curative results in treating chronic pain. It effectively eliminates pain because it attacks the source: the fibro-osseous junction, an area rich in sensory nerves. What’s more, the tissue strengthening and pain relief stimulated by Prolotherapy is permanent!

Think Prolotherapy may be for you? Call us!

Schedule a consultation via email or call us at 708-848-7789, and tell us more about your case to determine if you are a good candidate for Comprehensive Prolotherapy.

Caring Medical is a full time Prolotherapy doctor’s office, with extensive experience and research in dextrose Prolotherapy, Stem Cell therapy, Platelet Rich Plasma, and other regenerative injection solutions. This is why patients travel from across the country and internationally to be treated by our Prolotherapy practitioners, Dr. Ross Hauser and PA Danielle Steilen. The difference is in the care, technique, and experience you get with the team at Caring Medical.

The Prolotherapy treatment regimens suggested here are based on the experience of Caring Medical, and are provided for informational purposes only. They do not apply to every case or condition. A person using these recommendations without the aid of a personal physician does so at their own risk. It is essential to have your condition evaluated by your own healthcare provider. For a consultation with one of our Prolotherapists, please make an appointment.

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