For people with chronic joint pain life can be a hindrance. Firstly because of the debilitating nature of the problem and secondly the dilemma of knowing how to get it treated effectively. In the twenty-first century, there are so many medical interventions; it’s hard to know which one is the most appropriate to use. While some interventions are backed by science and have a proven validity, others are not and might be considered more as a money-making tool than a genuine therapeutic treatment.
Joint pain is something that almost everyone in the world will suffer at some point in their lives. For those that have on-going joint pain, it can be quite frustrating and naturally, a quick fix is often sought after even though it may not always be the best option.
Prolotherapy is a form a treatment that involves the injection of a solution containing glucose (a simple sugar) and lignocaine (a local anaesthetic) to help eliminate pain emanating from joints, ligaments and tendons.
It was first developed in the 1940s by an American surgeon called George Hackett. He developed the approach based on the idea that strained ligaments (tissues which prevent excessive movement of two bones; think of the knee and the commonly known Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL) were the cause of back pain. He attempted to strengthen the ligaments by injecting them with a solution that primarily inhibited inflammation and encouraged the formation of collagen. Collagen forms bonds within tissues which tighten the structure of the injected ligament. It is, for this reason, it is often referenced when talking about facial creams to prevent wrinkles. The same concept is applied to ligaments. With the formation of collagen, the ligaments tighten and strengthen, giving a joint more support. With more support, a joint is less likely to experience excessive friction and therefore wear and tear. This subsequently reduces pain in a joint.
After a thorough case history you will go through a physical assessment. This will help identify the possible cause of the presenting complaint and help establish a diagnosis. It is important to understand the source of the problem as not ALL joint pain in the peripheries i.e. the hands and feet will respond to prolotherapy. There may also be other issues that need correcting. Addressing these in conjunction with prolotherapy usually offers the best long-term outcome.
Once it has been established that you may benefit from prolotherapy the area is sterilised and the prepared solution is injected into the problematic joint. There may be multiple injections depending on the severity of the problem. Usually 2-3 sessions are required to give prolotherapy the most opportunity to help the affected site heal.
The goal of prolotherapy is to help reduce pain by increasing joint stability. Ideally not only will it create an environment that allows healing to occur but also prevent pain or any problem from recurring.
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