I have written several articles on prolotherapy and how it can help for a wide range of conditions. These include tendonitis such as tennis elbow and rotator cuff tendonitis, ligament injuries such as ankle and wrist sprains and plantar fasciitis, and joint arthritis affecting almost any joint including knees, shoulders, and hips among others. Today I will tell you about a great treatment called neural prolotherapy.
Neural prolotherapy is a treatment that modifies nerve signals to heal pain conditions. It is especially effective for nerve and muscle pain but can even help with joint pain.
Nerves and muscles work together. Muscles require nerves to make any movements. A nerve can become unhealthy from either being pinched somewhere along its course or from lacking nutrients. When the nerve is unhealthy, this can lead to both nerve pain and muscle pain. When a muscle or tendon is hurting, there is usually an unhealthy nerve that leads to that.
If you understand that any muscle strain usually results from an unhealthy nerve you now know a lot more about pain than most physicians. The great corollary is that by improving the health of that nerve, the muscle pain improves. The neural prolotherapy technique is a great way to restore the health of a nerve. By use of a 5% dextrose solution around the nerve, neural prolotherapy nourishes the nerve and restores it to health. This healthy nerve then restores the health of the muscle, resolving the muscle strain.
Pain is generated by small nerve fibers. It was found that when these fibers are lacking glucose, they generate pain signals. When providing glucose with 5% dextrose, that stops the nerve from firing and the pain subsides. What is amazing to watch, is that by placing 5% dextrose at several spots along the nerve that pain subsides instantly and dramatically. By restoring the internal environment of the nerve cell, pain is extinguished.
The area that is treated is determined by finding the areas of tenderness along the nerve. An example of how this works is someone coming in with acute back pain. After we treat the tender areas, the patient gets off the table and moves around. They will get off the table and usually say they have relief but still have pain in a smaller area. They get back on the table and we treat that smaller area. When the patient gets up again, they are much better but still have pain in one or two spots. They get back on the table and those last one or two spots are treated, and the patient gets up and is pain-free!
The pain usually comes back in several days, but usually when the pain comes back it is less intense. The patient then undergoes a second treatment and the pain again goes away. This time when it comes back, the pain is decreased further. This is analogous to throwing a bucket of water on a fire. When there is a fire, a bucket of water will put out the fire. The fire will come back but less intense and with each bucket of water, the fire is less intense until it is finally out. With neural prolotherapy, the acute condition is resolved after a few treatments and for a chronic condition will generally take 7 to 10 treatments, after which the condition is resolved.
Neural prolotherapy is ideally suited for nerve pain. One such condition is carpal tunnel syndrome. This is a pinched nerve at the wrist. In addition to treating the nerve at the wrist, the nerve is treating along its course in the arm and elbow which frees up the entire nerve leading to resolution of the carpal tunnel syndrome. Any nerve pain, including a pinched nerve in the neck or back, shingles, trigeminal neuralgia (a painful facial nerve) and cubital tunnel syndrome (pinched nerve at the elbow), responds beautifully to neural prolotherapy.
As noted above, the nerve and muscle work together. Thus, even a direct muscle injury such as a hamstring tear, can be treated with neural prolotherapy. This is because it is an unhealthy nerve that predisposes the muscle to an injury such as a tear and the muscle tear also affects the nerve to that muscle, so it is no longer delivering normal signals. By treating the nerve to the hamstrings with 5% dextrose the restored nerve helps the muscle heal faster. A hamstring tear almost always gets better but it gets better a lot faster with neural prolotherapy.
Similarly, a tendon is part of a muscle that attaches to bone. So by treating the nerves that supply that muscle and tendon, the tendonitis is resolved. Thus, neural prolotherapy is a great treatment for tendonitis. As noted, neural prolotherapy also treats joint pain. This is because the same nerve that supplies a muscle also supplies the joint. By restoring the health of the nerve, the inflammation of the joint is reduced and arthritic pain is relieved.
You may not have ever heard of neural prolotherapy. This is because the treatment is only about 12 years old. It was developed by Dr. John Lyftogt, a sports medicine physician in New Zealand. He was looking into the nerve-muscle connection and was trying to find a way of restoring nerve health. He tried many different agents including other concentrations of dextrose and finally found that 5% was the most effective. The treatment is being taught in small seminars, so the word is getting out gradually. There are a number of research studies that have shown its efficacy. My personal experience with neural prolotherapy is that pain is relieved dramatically at each treatment and is gratifying to see someone get off the table feeling so much better, all with just a 5% dextrose solution.
The beautiful aspect of neural prolotherapy is its simplicity and safety. The treatment involves placing the 5% dextrose just under the skin adjacent to the nerve. This is why another name for the treatment is perineural injection treatment (PIT). Because the injections are done with very fine, acupuncture-sized needles, there is usually minimal pain with the treatment. Also, the 5% dextrose solution is neutralized which causes much less pain and is more effective. It is also very safe as the 5% dextrose solution is very well tolerated with no toxicity. Thus, dramatic pain relief is achieved with a very safe, well-tolerated treatment.