Prolotherapy rehabilitating your running season’s injuries
By Dr. Rob Roth
If you have been trying to walk off that persistent injury since July, a different approach to managing your pain and rehabilitation might be the key to your success. But with a keychain full of therapeutic options, how do you find the right key to unlock the door to your recovery and health?
Prolotherapy has earned itself a reputation, both in the literature and from the doctors using it, as one of the most important medical therapies for pain management and injury rehabilitation. Prolotherapy made its appearance in the 1940s with Dr. George Hacket discovering its value in the treatment of complex joint pathologies. Since then, prolotherapy has steadily found favour among the medical profession, used by both Medical Doctors and Naturopathic Doctors; it has grown new branches, displaying itself as the treatment of choice or an important ancillary therapy for tendinopathy, ligament laxity, fascial imbalance, back pain, osteoarthritis, shoulder instability, knee pathologies and torn or damaged ligaments and tendons.
Prolotherapy uses a solution of dextrose, procaine and occasionally includes growth hormone, testosterone or sodium morrhuate to increase its effectiveness. The solution, known as the proliferant, is injected into damaged tissues triggering a local immune cell proliferation and cascade. This influx of immune cell activity, a local inflammation, results in the rescaffolding of damaged tissues, restoring their stability, strength, and function. In many ways prolotherapy shares similar behavioural traits with its cousin platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy, as prolotherapy also causes the release of a number of growth factors locally in the body, helping amplify its tissue rescaffolding effect.
Aside from surgery there is really no way to regenerate structural integrity in ligaments, tendons, and joints that have become loose due to acute strain or longstanding injury. Over a certain degree of strain (in certain tissues as little as 4 to 6 per cent) the body does not have the tools to regenerate the tensegrity these tissues once enjoyed. The result: chronic pain and structural compensation. Ultimately, other tissues inadequately fill the role of the damaged tissues, which reveals itself as bone misalignment, muscle pain, and further joint instability.
Prolotherapy fills this therapeutic void for those suffering from longstanding injuries that may not be an ideal candidate for surgery or are seeking a less invasive alternative. And while we often reach for the Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or once at our rope’s end, an injection of cortisone, prolotherapy not only rehabilitates all sorts of injuries of the joints, tendons, ligaments, and fascia but also helps rehabilitate an important medical paradigm.
This is the paradigm that pardons inflammation, embracing it as a necessary and important mediator for facilitating injury recovery. This is juxtaposed to the antiquated idea that we ought to mitigate inflammation in the body with anti-inflammatories such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, cortisone and even icing an injury. After all, blocking the immune cells with an anti-inflammatory blocks the body’s repair mechanism. So while for an undetermined amount of time we can control the symptoms of chronic pain or an injury with anti-inflammatories, we cannot rebuild damaged tissues with them. With prolotherapy, we are able to consolidate and amplify the immune system’s efforts in repairing damaged tissues.
Rehabilitating an injury requires a judicious stride, a stride that causes all tissues involved to reverberate with rapport. Some of us find this stride with physiotherapy or chiropractic care, but when joints have incurred chronic stress the capsules, tendons, ligaments and fascia weaken, stretch and must be functionally addressed.
Prolotherapy meets this requirement.
As Dr. Thomas Ravin, a radiologist and instrumental prolotherapist for more than 30 years, noted at a recent prolotherapy conference in Denver, “If you’re only allowed to take one medicine to the island for injury rehabilitation, there is no better medicine than prolotherapy.”
Dr. Rob Roth, BSc, MH, ND
Dr. Rob Roth is the Naturopathic Doctor at Gaia Clinic focusing on injury rehabilitation and pain management using novel therapeutic approaches including Prolotherapy and Platelet Rich Plasma Injections.