Proliferant therapy Q & A

Posted June, 2008

How come once it's injured, soft tissue (like elbow or knee ligaments) never seems to heal, no matter what we do?
Well, there are a number of issues that affect healing of ligaments. The most important is that the blood supply to such tissue is usually poor compared to the blood supply provided to things like muscles or your brain. Without plenty of blood to bring it nutrients, it's hard for the soft tissue to build new cells. (For now, let's consider all of this type of tissue such as ligaments and tendons to be "soft tissue".)
Fair enough. So the body doesn't supply enough blood and "food" to the soft tissues. What exactly is prolotherapy and how will it improve this? Is it going to grow new blood supplies to the soft tissue or what? What's the scoop here?

Prolotherapy is a little-known but very effective method for treating chronic ligament and tendon weakness. In this method, we inject a special "solution" directly into the soft tissue. There are components in this solution that help the body help itself (always a good way to work, when we can do so).

By causing some controlled inflammation (which by has as its by-product improved circulation) the solution helps to stimulate the growth of heavier, stronger soft tissues. The typical healing process should take about six weeks after the initial treatment. As the tendons and ligaments grow stronger, and thus more capable of doing what's asked of them, the pain goes away (or is at least reduced).

Do these injections hurt much?
The amount of pain the typical patient experiences should be much less compared to the chronic pain the weak tissue causes the patient to live with every day. Most patients find the procedure "uncomfortable" but certainly nothing so painful they find they can't continue with the series of treatments. And the anesthetic in the solution often provides most patients with immediate pain relief.
So how safe is this? Injecting things into my sore back or knee doesn't sound very safe when I think about it. Could it make it worse?

In a study published back in 1961, Abraham Myers, M.D., states that in treating 267 patients with low back pain (with and without sciatica) from May 1956 to October of 1960, "...over 4,500 Prolotherapy injections have been given without the occurrence of any complication."

As for making things "worse," that's very doubtful. The substances used are well-proven and very safe.

Somebody I know heard from somebody else on the Internet that this is dangerous stuff and I'm taking a big risk trying it. Is this true?

In the last 38 years no serious side effects from Prolotherapy have been reported in the medical literature—and that's despite millions of treatments given. The simple fact is that this treatment is not dangerous, and it has a great benefit: it cures chronic pain. This will sound strange coming from the text of a web page, but unless you know (and respect) the source of information on the Internet, you should be skeptical.

If you've got a bit of time, and the inclination, you can research this yourself at reputable mainstream sources (such as medical university databases) and find out just how successful this treatment can be.

Beware of any unsubstantiated claims both positive and negative. Remember: all people are unique and adjust to the treatments given to them according to their own subtle differences. Their overall health and attitudes can affect the outcomes of medical treatments. Finally, it's common for people not schooled in diagnostic medicine to have a problem not related to the treatment (for example they repeatedly injure the same joint because it feels better) and then—when things don't get better like they expected—they blame it on the treatment.

Overall, this procedure is about as safe and effective as nearly any other treatment in our medical toolkit.

So if this is so simple, can any doctor do this? Why would I want a pain management specialist to do this?
Remember that not all Prolotherapists are created equal. And the proof of this lies in some of the things our patients have told us, and what we've heard from other physicians who've dealt with the issue. To deal with chronic pain, it's best to see a Pain Management specialist and not another type of physician whose career has not been dedicated to relieving pain.
So say I decide we might want to try it. How often will I need to get this treatment? How many times overall?
The frequency of total number of treatments is something you'll discuss with the doctor at the time you decide to try this treatment. Some injuries (and patients) are highly responsive to it and may need fewer treatments. It varies. The spacing of the treatments is also something that the doctor will determine at the time you and he discuss your pain problem. So the answer is: "It depends."
Who's a candidate for this treatment?
Any patient who has a localized injury that involves primarily soft connective tissue as previously mentioned. It's very effective in strengthening those specific areas that need reinforcement, which then helps to prevent the pain the injured soft tissue provoked.
How is this going to help my pain, exactly? My back hurts, and this stuff might be able to help it? How can it help so many parts of the body?

There are many articles written on chronic pain, though rarely do they mention the main cause of the most common type of pain: the connective tissues of the spine and joints. It's no secret that chronic back pain is the leading cause of disability in North America. It's also not a secret that chronic back pain causes the most disabilities in Americans under the age of 45.

What is a secret is that this rampaging pain epidemic could probably be eliminated in 80% or more of the sufferers.

Prolotherapy, a simple treatment that relies on the body's own healing process, is a well-proven solution for this problem...yet it's the "Rodney Dangerfield" of back treatment programs: if often gets "no respect."

By addressing the deficiency of the connective tissues in the afflicted joint, mainly the lack of collagen and subsequent weakness, this treatment can help even people with rheumatoid arthritis. Some can even test "negative" for the rheumatoid factor, something previously thought to be impossible.

After Prolotherapy, new, healthy tissue can replace that damaged by the disease. It doesn't matter which joint has been affected, this treatment can probably help reduce joint pain.

Prolotherapy improves the quality of the pain-impaired joint—and thus the quality of the patient's life—with just a few simple treatments, and this with virtually no risk of unintended effects.

So what's my next step?
Contact us to arrange an appointment and discuss how we can help you heal your persistant soft tissue injury.