Prolotherapy: To Ease Chronic Pain
The practice of stimulating the body to mend itself by generating a healing response from the immune system is an ancient one. In many modern integrative health therapies, some old ways from the days of Hippocrates have been made new again, often with a fresh twist of technique or technology.
The concept of prolotherapy, the latest approach to pain management, is traceable to one used by Hippocrates (460-370 BCE), renowned as the “father of medicine,” on Greek soldiers with dislocated or torn shoulder joints. Today, it comes served up in a dextrose solution, injected into the ligament or tendon attached to the bone. The body’s response, a localized inflammation in the weak area, increases the blood supply and flow of nutrients, thus encouraging the tissue to repair itself.
Although patient response varies depending on an individual’s own healing ability, the average number of prolotherapy treatments is four. Severe cases may need 10 or more.
In 1992, Dr. Ross Hauser, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, assumed the practice of Dr. Gustav Hemwall, prolotherapy’s leading physician expert and proponent at the time. Hemwall treated more than 10,000 patients worldwide and collected data on 8,000. According to Hemwall, in a study of 1,871 of his patients, 75 percent of those who completed treatments found complete relief from their chronic pain.
Hauser subsequently founded Caring Medical & Rehabilitation Services, in Oak Park, Illinois, and over a period of 16 years has written seven books on the topic of prolotherapy. Adamant that the fundamental process by which the human body heals and strengthens itself is inflammation, Ross relishes his role as medical myth-buster.
“The traditional philosophy of anti-inflammatory methods such as rest, ice, elevation and compression (RICE), anti-inflammatory medications or cortisone shots to heal injury is totally flawed,” declares Hauser. “Regeneration and healing are pretty simple. No inflammation, no healing.”
Hauser explains why prolotherapy is so effective in easing pain. “Prolo is derived from the word proliferate, or grow. Prolotherapy injections proliferate, or stimulate the growth of new, normal ligament and tendon tissue,” he advises.
“The cause of most chronic musculoskeletal pain is ligament and/or tendon weakness.” He explains that ligaments connect bones together to provide stability for joints. Tendons connect muscles to bones, providing movement of joints. Weakened ligaments that can no longer perform cause overlying muscles to contract, in order to stabilize the joint. The result—muscle spasms and knots—make movement painful. “Thus, stimulating the growth of new tissue can strengthen lax ligaments and tendons and relieve most chronic painful conditions.”
A Doctor of Oriental Medicine in Naples, Florida, Alfred Cormier has been administering prolotherapy for nearly two years. He has also personally experienced the treatment’s possibilities. “I was rear-ended while riding on my motorcycle,” Cormier recalls, “and the accident damaged the sacroiliac ligament, the illiolumbar ligament and my hip, ankle and knee joints. Prolotherapy has given me a total recovery.”
Cormier has treated numerous patients who were scheduled for neck or lower back fusion surgery as well as shoulder, hip, and knee replacement surgery. Ninety percent of his patients were able to avoid surgery and now are pain free. Remarks Cormier, “The most important prolotherapy treatment for chronic low back pain is done on the sacroiliac and illiolumbar ligaments. Because of the upright human walking posture, it is a significant improvement in someone’s life when they do not have persistent back pain.”
Referral pain patterns like sciatica, which travel from the originating site to distant sites, also respond well to prolotherapy, as do the smaller finger and jaw joints.
Two days of soreness after injections is normal as white blood cells clear damaged tissue away. The next phase is fibroblast proliferation, which creates healthy new tissue. “This is the inflammatory response,” says Cormier. “It’s natural. It’s the body’s way of healing itself. Prolotherapy works with the body to initiate and promote that healing.”
For more information on prolotherapy and Caring Medical Rehabilitation Services, located at 715 Lake St., Ste. 600, in Oak Park, IL, call 708-848-7789 or visit www.CaringMedical.com.
For more information on prolotherapy and Cormier Health Center, located at 4760 Tamiami Trail N., #21, in Naples, call 239-530-3997.