On the one hand, we find traditional prolotherapy. Also known as classical prolotherapy, it consists of an injection treatment that relieves problems such as serious joint and spinal pain. Dating back to the 1940s, this treatment is particularly successful in treating things like tendonitis and osteoarthritis.
This therapy is an injection treatment consisting of a dextrose (a sugar) concentrations of up to 25 percent. Traditional prolotherapy is a feasible alternative to surgery and over the last 40 years has claimed excellent results between 80 and 95 percent.
So how exactly does it work? Depending on the patient’s needs and seriousness of their chronic injury, the average person will receive between three and six treatments given between two- and six-week intervals.
Usually patients will experience relief after just one session, however, more serious cases require more treatments.
Once a patient is ready to receive this treatment, a dextrose solution is injected directly into their damaged area where it attaches to the bone, whether that be a tendon or ligament. The injection will result in inflammation which initiates the body’s response and results in wound healing.
Traditional prolotherapy can be administered anywhere that someone’s tendon or ligament has been overstretched, strained or sprained. Once the patient receives the injection, it will enhance blood flow in the area, deliver nutrients and promote wound contraction while producing new collagen tissue.
This will result in the remodelation of tendon or ligament, which eventually strengthens and restores its regular function.
Usually, the injections also contains anesthetic agents to help minimize the pain of getting the injection. Dr. George Hackett, an American trauma surgeon developed traditional prolotherapy to treat a wide spectrum of injuries.
What Is Neural Prolotherapy?
On the other hand, we find neural prolotherapy, or micro-injections. This is a relative newer practice in regenerative orthopedic medicine which focuses on nerve pain.
Dr. John Lyftogt developed this alternative treatment in 2002, and it consists of targeting the nerves immediately underneath the skin. These nerves receive 5 percent concentrations of dextrose with sterile water to relieve pain.
It is important to remember that this alternative treatment treats nerves associated with pain, not a tendon, ligament or joint. These nerves receive the dextrose injections to block the response of the organism of painful conditions that cause inflammation in the tissues and surrounding areas.
This treatment is typically administered in four to six sessions on a weekly basis, using a very small needle that targets just under the skin.
Lots of patients who receive it experience pain relief after just one treatment. However this will only last for a few days which is why doctors prescribe more treatments to have a lasting effect.
Most of the patients tolerate well the injections because needles are small, and they do not go beyond the skin. In short, it usually only causes minor discomfort.
Originally, this treatment addressed Achilles tendonitis, but thanks to its success rate (between 80 and 90%), doctors use it to treat:
- Painful knees
- Lower back pain
- Pelvic pain
- Finger joints
- Tennis elbow
- Compartment syndrome
Neural Prolotherapy: Other Uses
Lyftgot believes that these small injections of glucose will help with the repair of the connective tissue inside the nerves underneath the skin.
These types of nerves responds for causing painful conditions, inflammation of the tissue and surrounding areas. Inflamed nerves are widely known to be related to osteoarthritis.
This specific type of inflammation respond to neurogenic inflammation, which is very different from common inflammation. Neural prolotherapy reverses the effects of neurogenic inflammation.
Which One of Them Is Better for Me?
Regenerative orthopedic medicine continues to develop in today’s society with the discovery of treatments such as neural prolotherapy. The main difference between one of the other is the only fact that the first focuses on healing the ligament, tendon or joint deeply and directly.
Differently, the second one focuses on to the subcutaneous nerves as the source of the pain, so it does not target tendons, joints or ligaments. In short, it treats the nerves associated with the area that is experiencing pain.
However, the two therapies are often used together to resolve a patient’s chronic pain conditions, although not in any specific order.
For example, if a patient is feeling a deep knee pain, a doctor may choose to tackle it with traditional prolotherapy. If the patient then experiences superficial nerve pain over the knee, a doctor might decide to administer neural prolotherapy.
Everyone is unique and everyone experiences different pain. The good thing about using both is that the patient experiences different stages of healing.
When it comes to the success of these therapies, a patient must remember to practice proper nutrition, manage their stress, get enough sleep, and continue physical manipulation to influence the healing process.
There are many different causes for pain in a person’s body such as their bones, muscles and nerves. Traditional prolotherapy has been used for centuries with its ability to structurally heal pain. While neural prolotherapy is newer, it has been proven to heal neurogenic inflammation. Both are very important practices in orthopedic healing.