Do you suffer from chronic pain? Maybe you have chronic pain in your neck, your back or your joints. If you’re like me, you’ve taken over-the-counter medications like aspirin, had chiropractic treatments, tried cortisone shots or even have a prescription for a narcotic painkiller. These options can help, but often provide only temporary relief for chronic pain. Consider asking your doctor about proliferative therapy, known as prolotherapy.
Prolotherapy is a method for treating chronic pain from ligament and tendon weakness or injury. A doctor injects a dextrose solution into the injured area, stimulating the body’s natural healing mechanisms to create healthy, strong tissues. Essentially, the injection causes a mild, controlled injury that results in inflammation. This response then encourages growth of new ligament and tendon fibers, strengthening the weakened area.
Prolotherapy can help with chronic back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, whiplash, sciatica, headaches associated with neck problems, and disk problems. It is also effective for TMJ (temporal mandibular joint dysfunction), carpal tunnel syndrome, and even vascular issues such as varicose veins and spider veins.
Some patients improve with one treatment, but most need several sessions to fully strengthen the injured area and reduce or eliminate chronic pain. In fact, one study reported 85% to 95% of patients with lower back pain experienced relief with prolotherapy. Around 10% have a poor response to prolotherapy. It is considered to be a safe procedure, but should be administered by a specially trained physician with experience in this branch of orthopedic medicine.
Here are some basic guidelines for considering prolotherapy for your chronic pain.
1. A joint that is better with rest and worse with exercise. Rest usually helps the body heal itself, but because of decreased blood supply in ligaments, rest alone is not sufficient. Unlike muscle fiber, exercise will not heal injured ligaments or tendons.
2. A joint that is popping, snapping, or clicking. An unstable or weak joint will snap, click, or pop during movement. Prolotherapy will strengthen the ligaments thus stabilizing the joint.
3. Joint pain lasting longer than six weeks. Normally, a healthy body can heal torn or lax ligaments within six weeks. If pain continues past that time, the joint is unstable and will need treatment.
4. Any joint that is worse after surgery. If discs or cartilage were removed during surgery, ligaments can become lax. Lax ligaments lead to unstable joints and eventually arthritis forms.
5. Recurrent TMJ pain. If you experience consistent, recurrent headache, face pain, jaw pain, and ear pain, prolotherapy may provide relief.
6. A sensation of the leg “giving way”. If your leg feels as if it cannot support you when you are walking and is accompanied by back pain, prolotherapy may help.
How do you know if you are a good candidate for prolotherapy? Ideal candidates have certain elements in common:
* Pain originating from a ligament or tendon
* Strong immune system
* Healthy diet
* Willingness to do follow-up visits
* Positive mental attitude and outlook
There are circumstances where prolotherapy may not be appropriate or effective to treat your chronic pain. Patients experiencing the following issues may not be good candidates:
* High levels of anticoagulant medication
* Recent cortisone injections
* Current use of anti-inflammatory medication
* Irritable bladder
* Chronic fatigue
* Depressed immune system
* Hormonal deficiencies
Be prepared for a thorough examination and evaluation to determine exact cause of chronic pain as well as other factors that may affect treatment options, like those mentioned above. Some issues, such as malnutrition and hormonal deficiencies, can be treated. Discuss treatment options with your physician so that you can pursue prolotherapy for your chronic pain.
You may experience some pain during injection and then soreness once inflammation starts. Your doctor may recommend acetaminophen to ease the pain, but do not take an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen. This will work against the whole concept of prolotherapy because, as mentioned above, inflammation actually promotes the type of healing you need.
If you suffer from chronic pain, don’t go another day without consulting your doctor about prolotherapy. It may be the key to living a more active, pain-free life.