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Prolotherapy is also known as nonsurgical ligament reconstruction and is a treatment for chronic pain.
What conditions can prolotherapy help?
The treatment is useful for many different types of musculoskeletal pain, including arthritis, back pain, neck pain, knee pain, sports injuries, unresolved whiplash injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic tendonitis, partially torn tendons, ligaments and cartilage, degenerated or herniated discs, TMJ and sciatica.
What is prolotherapy?
First, it is important to understand what the word prolotherapy itself means. “Prolo” is short for proliferation, because the treatment causes the proliferation (growth, formation) of new ligament tissue in areas where it has become weak.
Ligaments are the structural “rubber bands” that hold bones to bones in joints. Ligaments can become weak or injured and may not heal to their original strength or endurance, largely because the blood supply to ligaments is limited, and therefore healing is slow and not always complete. To further complicate this problem, ligaments also have many nerve endings, and therefore the person will feel pain at the areas where the ligaments are damaged or stretched.
Tendons are tissue that connects muscles to bones, and in the same manner as ligaments, tendons might also become injured and cause pain.
Prolotherapy is a treatment that encourages the formation of new, stronger connective tissues. Through the proliferation of new connective tissue, tendons and ligaments become stronger and joints more stable and less painful.
Prolotherapy specifically treats ligamentous laxity using the body’s own healing powers. The treatment involves the injection of local anesthetics and other commonly available, FDA-approved, safe and effective medications that cause an inflammatory reaction in these weak areas that then increases the blood supply and flow of nutrients and stimulates the body to make new ligamentous tissue. This injection technique has been used in the low back for over sixty years with great success and can be used in the extremities with even more spectacular results. The great advantage of prolotherapy is that the injured person can continue to exercise, work and play immediately after treatment and therefore avoids the long rehabilitation following surgery.
More recently, the strategy of controlled, induced inflammation with the inclusion of the cartilage nutrient, glucosamine, has been used to stimulate cartilage repair in joints. For severely arthritic joints, the addition of human growth hormone increases the effectiveness of the treatment.
Historical analysis has shown that a variant of prolotherapy was first used by Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, to treat soldiers with dislocated, torn shoulder joints. He would stick a hot poker into the joint and, by what appeared to be a miracle, the joint would heal normally. Of course, we don’t still use hot pokers today, but the principle is similar – induce the tissue to repair itself using the innate ability of the body to heal itself.
How long will it take to complete a course of treatments?
The response to treatment varies from individual to individual and depends upon one’s healing ability. Some people may only need a few treatments while others may need ten or more. The average number of treatments is four to six for an area treated. The best place to begin is to get an evaluation by Dr. Bair to see if you are an appropriate candidate. Once you begin treatment, Dr. Bair can better tell how you are responding and give you a more accurate estimate.
Prolotherapy Treatment: $250
Below, Dr. Bair, medical director, and Kristie Bair, president, of Bair Medical Spa discuss the prolotherapy treatment on New Mexico Style:
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