Prolotherapy – One Year Reflections - Alliance Integrative Medicine

Prolotherapy – One Year Reflections

It’s hard for me to believe it’s been nearly a year since I went to Honduras for training and experience using prolotherapy for patients with ligament laxity. Time sure does fly! Since returning I’ve had the privilege of treating 4-6 patients/week using this modality. They come from within our existing practice from patients who’ve not responded to other treatments such as acupuncture, FSM (frequency specific microcurrent), and chiropractic care. They find me by on-line searching for a local prolotherapist, or by referral from an outside chiropractor. Some find me after a satisfied prolotherapy patient tells them their own success story.

My staff fields questions about me and my experience. Most ask “How many (blank) has she treated?” Meaning THEIR particular joint, i.e. shoulders, knees, thumbs, etc. Some ask for my success rate. I think that is a good question to ask a potential provider. Unfortunately, I don’t have a numerical answer to give them. What I CAN say is that most patients are very happy with their results. The majority of patients have 2-4 treatments to an area about a month apart with steady improvement each time. Some feel no change until their second or third treatment. Others start out treating their worst joint and then want to keep going treating their other troublesome areas.

Young athletes (high school and college) seem to do the best but others ages 40 to 60 do well also. They often just take a few more treatments to be satisfied with their results. The oldest patient I’ve treated was 86 years old. She had her knee treated in her 70’s and did well until the past year when she needed more treatment to maintain her desired level of activity.

Another question I often get pertains to using PRP (platelet-rich plasma) prolotherapy compared to dextrose prolotherapy. My training through University of Wisconsin Hemwall Hackett Foundation taught me to try dextrose first for the majority of patients. There are several reasons for this. Unless a patient has a complete ligament tear, is immunocompromised, or in a big hurry to return to full function there is no clear advantage to using PRP. The costs are higher as well – about $750 on average per PRP treatment compared to $250 on average for dextrose prolotherapy.

I conducted an informal experiment on some of my dextrose prolotherapy patients interested in trying PRP. We had 5 of them come for a PRP treatment for the cost of dextrose prolotherapy and asked them to compare the experience to previous treatments. None of them noticed a significant advantage to using their platelets as time progressed. All felt that the injections were more painful. For these reasons, I’ve elected to stay with using dextrose. If someone needs PRP for the above mentioned reasons, I can ralways efer them out for that.

A Success Story

As with most things in medicine there have been some miraculous results along the way. One woman was referred to me by her chiropractor in Oregon. She had relocated to Cincinnati and he felt she would do well receiving prolotherapy for her low back. She reported pain for the previous 3 years and after only 1 treatment has had absolutely no pain! She presented for her 2nd session recently and after talking to her and re-examining her back I decided not to do more injections as this time. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I say! She knows where to find me if she needs more treatment. For now she is working on building her lower core strength because she knows her back is only as healthy as her core on the whole.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you how gratifying prolotherapy is for my patients and for me. Recently a dancer from one of the traveling off-Broadway troupes came to me for treatment for his knee. He had a large effusion (collection of fluid) around his knee from dancing on his degenerative joint and has had prolotherapy around the country in various cities in which he performs. I was able to drain the fluid for him making sure it wasn’t infected and then give him prolotherapy in and around his knee so he could perform in his show using a brace that night. He left feeling better and grateful for the treatment.

Prolotherapy isn’t for everyone, however. Sometimes other treatments are a better choice initially. For that reason, seeking out a practitioner and a place where you have options and guidance makes the best sense. I hope you will look to the Alliance Integrative Medicine for your care and am happy to help you on your way.

By Dr. Elizabeth Woolford
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