By Dr. Sheila Mohammed, MD, PhD
Prolotherapy refers to a treatment that helps the body heal and regenerate tissues, making them stronger and removing discomfort in the long-term, while doing away with the need for surgery. Injured and worn soft tissues such as cartilage, and ligaments in the spine and joints, benefit with a robust response to this treatment. Prolotherapy is gaining popularity among those who prefer not to be burdened with surgery that often leaves painful scars and metallic hardware that in itself causes discomfort. Sports enthusiasts are now opting for Platelet Rich Plasma and Stem Cells type Prolotherapy to heal injuries. The procedure involves a few tolerable injections to the area of the body that is injured. The science behind this treatment is to introduce a natural solution to the injured site which stimulates the body to produce fibroblasts, growth factors and a host of other substances, to repair the damaged tissues. As the injured tissues heal, discomfort goes away. The body is quite capable of healing itself and it does so near perfectly just the way it was intended to. There are various methods and types of solutions used to perform prolotherapy and are outlined below.
- Simple prolotherapy using dextrose to stimulate the healing process combined with lidocaine used as a numbing agent for patient comfort: Dextrose stimulates the body to produce fibroblasts and cytokines to injured cartilage, tendons and ligaments to give a burst of healing. Many times other homeopathic solutions and vitamins are mixed in small quantities with the dextrose to give a more vigorous healing response.
- Prolotherapy using platelets to stimulate repair and growth of tissues: This is also known as Platlet Rich Plasma (PRP) and it is what many prominent athletes are having this procedure so that they can “stay in the game.” Platelets are rich in growth factors which give a faster healing response than the dextrose solution, however, it is a little more expensive to do this procedure.
- Prolotherapy using stem cells from the blood, bone-marrow, and fat tissue. This gives a faster and better healing response and is used in areas of the body that are more severly injured.
- Neural Prolotherapy using a 5% dextrose solution is used when pain and discomfort are caused by superficial nerves. The solution is injected just beneath the skin, the injured nerves heal and any discomfort goes away.
The end result is more or less the same in all variations of prolotherapy. The time the body takes to heal depends on the severity of the injury and the method used. After we review the patient’s medical records, listen to the patient’s report on his/her illness, and do a physical examination, we will formulate a treatment plan; taking into account patient preferences, the severity of the injury, and the patient’s time line to recovery. Utilizing this method, I am pleased to say that every patient who came to my clinic has been helped. Prolotherapy is a permanent cure for painful conditions. Most of the time (85%) patients are completely cured of the medical condition. The rest of our patients get significant relief and are able to function better in the world. Dr. Sheila Mohammed is the Medical Director of Spine & Joint LLC, a regenerative medicine clinic in Destin, Florida. Please call 850-281-8186 to schedule a treatment consultation.
MRI image of a knee joint before and after prolotherapy treatment.