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Prolotherapy; an Alternative for Healing Injuries

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 3 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Prolotherapy Tendon Strain Muscle Injury

Tendon Strain

Tendons attach a muscle to the bone and are involved in movement of the joint.Tendons may become irritated and inflamed for a number of reasons. Inflammation of the tendon is called tendonitis. Increasing your exercise program suddenly or over-exercising a particular body area are both common causes.

The Healing Process

The healing process goes through characteristic phases: inflammatory, proliferate, and remodelling. Inflammation causes the immune system to increase circulation to the injured area, during this stage; cells remove toxins and damaged tissue. This stage occurs during the first week of injury and produces the typical redness and warmth. The increased circulation also produces swelling and some pain.

Once new blood vessels have begun to form, swelling and pain will begin to decrease. Then collagen is laid down by the fibroblasts (cells that generate connective tissue) to increase ligament and tendon strength.

The third stage begins at four to six weeks when produce new collagen. Healing is completed when new blood vessels have matured. By this time the tissue is stronger and all pain will have subsided. Newly formed tissue will continue to mature for one and one-half years.

Unfortunately, many athletes, trainers, and physicians see the pain after an injury as a bad sign and typically prescribe anti-inflammatory treatments to alleviate it. Inflammation, though uncomfortable, is a sign that the proper immune response to the injury is in progress. Stopping the inflammatory reaction can decrease your chances of complete healing. Prolotherapy can help your body heal naturally without steroid or anti-inflammatory resistance.

What is Prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy is a simple technique that stimulates the body to repair the painful area when your own healing processes needs some help or you want to speed up the natural process. If you opt for prolotherapy, your health practitioner will inject a solution into the affected ligaments or tendons. The fluid produces local inflammation, which you might think is exactly what you don't want. However, it is this process of inflammation that prolotherapists claim gets your tendons healing again. Inflammation brings about the production of collagen, by stimulating the fibroblasts. Collagen is what makes tendons flexible and strong.

Prolotherapy works on the same principles that your body uses naturally to stimulate healing- the process of inflammation. It involves the injection of a mildly irritating solution, or proliferant, into the injured area. This stimulates the growth of new tissue and stronger ligaments.

An anaesthetic is injected along with the proliferant in the initial treatments so that the inflammation can carry out its work without causing any discomfort. Pain relief may often continue after the effect of the anaesthetic subsides due to the stabilizing of the treated joints caused by the inflammation induced by the prolotherapy injections.

As healing progresses, you will require fewer injections and the pain will lessen with each treatment.

What are the Active Ingredients in Prolotherapy Injections?

Osmotic Proliferants
These are the most preferred solutions. They are more simply known as dextrose and glycerin. Because they are water-soluble, whatever the body has no use for is excreted in urine and not stored in fatty tissue. Injecting osmotic proliferants causes cells around the injury to break. This breakdown stimulates a rush of inflammatory cells, which initiate the healing process.

Pumice flour is the most commonly used particulate proliferant. The macrophages within the body eat its microscopic particles; they then secrete substances which promote the growth of collagen tissue.

Chemotactics, such as sodium morrhuate, pull immune cells to the inflamed area.

How Effective is Prolotherapy?

The length of prolotherapy treatments is variable, depending on several factors, including nutritional status, individual ability to heal, and the degree and site of the injury involved. Patients may experience complete relief from pain and full restoration of function after only three or four treatments. Generally, more severe injuries require from six to twelve sessions and less extensive injuries from one to six sessions.

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i`m willing to give anything a try. i have had problems/pain in my right elbow for at least 15 years. i`ve had six or seven cortisone injections which work almost instantly but only last for two to three months.physiotherapy was a waste of time. an elasticated elbow support did nothing to help and i`ve wasted an unknown quantity of frozen peas. i don`t care HOW much the injections hurt so long as they work.
dave - 9-Nov-11 @ 8:27 PM
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