The word Prolotherapy is a combination of two words 'prolo' and 'therapy', wherein 'prolo' is the shortened form of 'proliferation', since the treatment involves causing the proliferation, or the formation or growth of new tissues of ligaments in the parts of the body, where they have been weakened.
Ligaments are bands or sheets of fibrous tissue that connect bones together in joints. Ligaments can be injured or become weak, and may not always get back to the original condition they were in, in terms of endurance or strength. This is mainly due to the fact that ligaments do not get as much blood supply, which results in making the healing process slower and sometimes, leaving it incomplete. As a further complication, there are also many nerve endings in ligaments, and hence, pain is felt where the ligaments are injured or damaged.
This therapy is a healing technique that helps in stimulating the body to repair any area that is painful. It is generally used when other methods such as anti-inflammatory drugs, or more extreme measures like joint replacement or surgery, does not provide relief.
An injection of sugar water or a dextrose solution is given in the affected ligament, where it is attached to the bone. This results in causing an inflammation in the affected area, which in turn results in increasing the supply of blood as well as nutrients into the area, thus stimulating the repair of the tissue.
Historical accounts tell us that even Hippocrates used this kind of technique on soldiers afflicted by tears or dislocations in their shoulder joints. He used to insert a heated poker into the affected joint, where, it would heal seemingly miraculously. Of course, hot pokers are not used these days, although the basic principle is similar, i.e., to induce the body to heal itself, which is an innate ability that it already has.
Conditions Treated with Prolotherapy
The treatment is highly effective for various kinds of musculoskeletal pains, such as, sciatica, herniated or degenerated discs, partially torn ligaments, tendons, and cartilage, chronic tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, unhealed whiplash injuries, sports injuries, fibromyalgia, neck pain, back pain, and arthritis.
Duration of Treatment
The response to the treatment differs from one person to another, depending largely on each person's healing capacity. While for some people, just a few sessions are needed, others may require 10 or even more. On an average, about 4 to 6 sessions of treatment are enough for one particular area.
One of the best things to do is, consult a physician, who is trained in prolotherapy, to find out if it is an appropriate treatment for you. Once you start the treatment, your physician will keep you informed about your response to the treatment and tell you accurately how long the healing process will take.