A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Forrest Peterson; a player I used to coach not too long ago. He had buggered up his wrist pretty badly playing basketball. And after weeks of alternating between heat, ice, balms, and rest, his injury still didn’t seem to be healing properly. So, at the recommendation of one of his friends he decided to undergo an alternative non-invasive procedure known as prolotherapy.
After only one session the pain he was experiencing was dramatically reduced, and after the second session his wrist for the most appears to now be healed and virtually pain free.
Seemingly the best thing about prolotherapy is that it can be used to correct and heal injuries virtually anywhere in the body, making it great for basketball players who frequently succumb to injury. Something to note is that not all prolotherapists are the same because a large factor in its success rate is down to technique of injection. Forrest underwent his prolotherapy in Calgary which is where he currently lives. However, there are a lot of excellent physicians that perform this procedure across the US as well.
What Is Prolotherapy?
Prolotherapy is a treatment method that involves intraligamentous injections of irritant-like solutions directly into tendons, joints, ligaments, or cartilage. These injections are to help fix, improve, or speed upon
Typically a solution containing hypertonic dextrose in combination with vitamins (b12, etc) and a numbing agent is used. First the numbing agent is injected to numb the area in preparation for the main solution. The solution itself is injected directly into the damaged structure which causes an instant reaction of inflammation to occur. By creating an artificial injury the brain now informs the body to send healing agents (white blood cells, red blood cells, etc) to the newly inflamed area and the natural healing process begins. Over the course of a few or many injections; prolotherapy is essentially “jump-starting” the bodies healing process towards that injury over and over again. Over time the injury heals and grows as strong as it previously was before it became damaged
Prolotherapy is also great for pain management. Such issues as: neck pain, back pain, sciatica, degenerative disc disease, whiplash and sacroiliac problems, bad knees, hip instability, rib instability or even things as simple as sprained ankles, wrists, or tennis elbow can be healed or relieved with prolo.
How Long and How Many?
Prolotherapy treatment commonly consists of several injection sessions ranging from 3 to 10 over the course of 3 to 8 months performed every 2 to 6 weeks. The sessions depend on the individual being treated and the condition of the problem.
Ideal Candidates for Prolotherapy
- Having tendon, ligament, joint pain, or instability/weakness lasting over six weeks
- Taking medication and following manual or physical therapy management but getting temporary relief
- Having joint pain which worsens with exercise and which temporarily relieved on rest
- Having no pain relief even after surgery
Reasons Why It May Not Work
- Physician missing the injury when injecting
- Solution is too weak for the injury
- Not enough solution used
- Poor diet, sleep, or lifestyle patterns of patients which can drastically blunt the healing process
- Returning to sport or laborious work too soon before the injury has healed
- Apply heat instead of ice which blunts the inflammation process
- Eat a well balanced diet including ample amounts of protein
- If pain becomes bothersome take acetaminophen but avoid all NSAID’s like advil as they
- Blunt the inflammatory process
- Perform moderate exercises like walking
- Avoid work with heavy lifting and avoid strenuous movements
Prolotherapy is considered to be much safer than surgical procedures, however, there still are complications and side effects that can occur.
Most pain will occur at the injection site and commonly reported side effects are pain, swelling and/or tenderness.
Post-injection stiffness is another common complaint. This is due to the inflammatory process that the irritant solution causes. Some people that suffer from cases of hypermobility will actually enjoy this stiffness as it helps to reduce pain and movement.
These risk factors are much more rare but are still something to be aware of. Such things include allergic reactions, swelling, headache, intense pain, paralysis, or permanent nerve damage, as well as leakage of spinal fluid and pneumothorax.
In summary, prolotherapy seems to be a great alternative treatment for not just basketball or sports players but anyone who is suffering from a chronic injury where surgery is either not an option or hasn’t work for them.
I will very likely try it out for myself on an old knee injury that has never quite healed right for me. It seems like this very well may be the future for sports and injury recovery once it starts to catch on more.
For additional information you can also check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prolotherapy