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A Look at Prolotherapy for Pain

With warm weather comes the occasional acute athletic injury. Most often these are remedied conservatively with rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE) and taking a NSAID (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like Advil or Motrin. Occasionally these injuries do not resolve with conservative management and become problematic with worsening pain, limitation of movement and disability. Under these circumstances, many people seek the opinion of their physician who will offer a more potent NSAID along with physical therapy and possibly an x-ray or scan if warranted. Unfortunately this approach may not yield the desired recovery.

Most of our injuries which are labeled as musculoskeletal are actually not. Sports injuries in particular tend to involve overstretching of our elastic tendons and ligaments which help keep our joints in their proper three dimensional orientation. Tendons’ and ligaments’ have limited blood supply. When these elastic structures are acutely injured they take a longer period of time to heal. Furthermore our busy lifestyles don’t allow the time needed for these injuries to heal and often we resume our unrestrained way of life prematurely and re-injure these vital structures resulting in chronic injury.

In the 1950s George Hackett, MD, a surgeon in Ohio, first theorized that most of our injuries that lead to chronic pain conditions have to do with overstretching or damage to our tendons and ligaments. Dr. Hackett injected different solutions into his patients’ overstretched tendons and ligaments and found Dextrose to be very effective in reducing his patients’ pain. He taught his technique to a number of other physicians, one being Gus Hemwall, MD, a surgeon from Chicago. After Dr. Hackett died Dr. Hemwall continued to do research and teach what came to be known as prolotherapy. Contemporary research has shown that injecting Dextrose stimulates an inflammatory response, drawing the body’s chemical mediators to the area of injury, promoting and accelerating the normal healing process.

At Restorative Health, we’ve found prolotherapy to be a natural and effective treatment for chronic or acute pain, due to arthritis, injuries (back, neck, hip or sports related), ligament or tendon injuries or chronic tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, joint dislocation, TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Pain), degenerated or herniated discs, and failed back surgery. If you are considering pain therapy, we suggest an initial medical visit to assess whether you are a good candidate for prolotherapy, physical therapy, acupuncture or other approach.