What Is Prolotherapy?
According to The American Osteopathic Association of Prolotherapy Regenerative Medicine“Prolotherapy (Proliferative Therapy), also know as Non-Surgical Ligament and Tendon Reconstruction and Regenerative Joint Injection, is a recognized orthopedic procedure that stimulates the body’s healing processes to strengthen and repair injured and painful joints and connective tissue. It is based on the fact that when ligaments or tendons (connective tissue) are stretched or torn, the joint they are holding destabilizes and can become painful. Prolotherapy, with its unique ability to directly address the cause of the instability, can repair the weakened sites and produce new collagen tissue, resulting in permanent stabilization of the joint. Once the joint is stabilized, pain usually resolves.
Would this work for me?
In 2015 I went to a pain specialist about my Fibromyalgia, focusing on extreme legs pain and weakness and it was suggested that I try Prolotherapy, which in an alternative treatment, in non-technical wording, is a series of injections with a mixture of dextrose, saline, sarapin and lidocaine (sugar, saline and a numbing agent).
My understanding was that the solution would be injected around the nerves in my lower back and legs The solution would cause small, localized inflammation that would encourage my nerves to calm and heal, reducing pain.
I am not a fan of needles, and used to be terrified of them, so I had to give it a lot of thought. I spoke with my Dad who had tried Prolotherapy in his hips (arthritis and hockey injuries) and asked his advice. He had seen a major improvement after a few treatments and encouraged me to give it a try.
I inquired if my extended medical insurance covered this for Fibromyalgia and discovered it didn’t. It was expensive, approximately $200 for the consultation and and another $200ish (trying to remember, brain fog) per session depending on the amount of injections. Multiple sessions would probably be needed.
As many of us know, any type of therapy is hit / miss (more miss) when you have Fibromyalgia so I admit, I had to give this idea a LOT of thought.
I spoke with my husband and decided to give it a try (to a maximum of 3 visits) and if it was helping then we would re-discuss it. I was still struggling with the idea of spending approximately $800 on a “what if”.
I waited a good while, cancelling 2 appointments to cold feet. Did I mention, I was terrified needles? Finally, I decided to go for it… all I had to lose was the consulting fee.
I arrived at the office about 15 minutes early to fill out forms before the appointment. The retired MD, turned holistic doctor was running a little behind, but only about 20 minutes late. Once I was called in the office I was asked to change into a gown. The doctor spent time reviewing and discussing my medical history, any past injuries, my diagnosis’s and past treatments, medications etc. She did a physical exam, including the trigger point test and a nerve pressure test. I found the nerve pressure test quite painful.
She explained that the procedure would take about 30 -45 minutes and that the solution would be injected just under my skin along flared nerves.Then she said something I wasn’t expecting… she suspected I would need about 100 pokes… yes, 100 needle pokes!!! I thought I was going to be sick!!!
Taking the Plunge (sorry for the pun)
I shocked myself when I realized I had just agree’d to give it a try… was I nuts?
The medical assistant brought in a try loaded with needles and bottles and got set up. The doctor explained she was going to start on my lower back and that it was going to be a little uncomfortable. I wont lie, the first injection was painful. And as she followed the nerves down my leg, with each injection, I felt more and more relief. The most painful area was in the groin area… and the doctor got to hear a few new swear words.
We discussed after care, and she gave me a post-procedure pamphlet. The pamphlet explained that some achenes was to be expected, and should pass over the next 2-3 days.
Tylenol could be used but nothing anti-inflammatory, if needed. Ice should not be used, not excessive heat (I was told not to use my outdoor hot tub as it was too hot). Movement and light exercise was recommended, as was healthy eating
When she was done, I honestly felt all over relief, I wanted to hug her! It had been years since I had been this pain free. I happily went to the front desk to pay ($450, ouch), and book a follow up in 4 or 6 weeks.
On my way home I was able to run errands, stopping at Walmart AND the grocery store! Only fatigue slowed me down.
I noticed I was more achy that evening, the lidocaine wearing off. I spent the next 24 hours still achy, with little lumps where the solution was injected but felt better then I had in a very long time. I enjoyed the next 2 weeks at a reduced pain level, but not as much or as long as I had hoped, but expected since it was only the first treatment.
My second treatment yielded the same results but only lasted a little over a week. I questioned if it was helping but decided to give it one last chance.
My third and final appointment did not give me the relief I expected, I left there achier then I arrived, within 72 hours I was bruised and was not noticing an improvement.
While I enjoyed the temporary relief I got, it did not benefit me and was an expensive experiment for Fibromyalgia. This type of therapy seems to me, would be helpful for sports injuries but not Fibromyalgia.
But, like the saying goes, what works for one of us may or may not work for someone with the same symptoms, so if you were thinking of giving it a try… the only thing it seemed to hurt was my bank account!