Prolotherapy – The Evolution
Cordell E Logan, ND
Prolo is a name taken from “proliferative” therapy, which involves an injection into an injured area to stimulate healing. It had its origins perhaps as early as Hippocrates in 400 BC when he used a hot poker in the axilla to repair s dislocated shoulder. Some consider Alfred Velpeau, MD, as the father of prolotherapy. He injected an iodine solution to treat a hernia. In around 1880 Rene Leriche, MD, injected ligaments with procaine. In the early 1930s Earl Gedney, DO, injured his own thumb in a door at his surgical clinic, so he injected himself with some irritating solutions that were used for hernia repair. In the mid-1950s Dr. George S. Hackett observed healing at the bone-ligament junction when it was injected. He called this “proliferation” therapy, later calling it “prolo.” He said ligament laxity causes pain, and that healing stages go from inflammation, granulation to maturation. Dr. Ongley came up with one of the injection solutions involving dextrose plus other ingredients. Many other researchers such as Klein, Hemwall, and others also contributed to this effort. A newer injection technique is called PRP, platelet rich plasma, which started in the early 1990s. Blood is taken from the person and centrifuged. The platelets are extracted, diluted, and injected into the same person. Then stem cell technology came along. Some involve bone marrow and fat tissue extractions. This technique has been very successful and is now legal in the United States. Dr. Harry Adelson in Utah, who has learned from many clinics outside the United States, and others have contributed to this new method. If a knee, shoulder, or hip is not too far gone (beyond bone on bone) prolotherapy can save the joint and prevent the need for surgery. Back injuries or problems due to normal aging can be helped. Prolotherapy strengthens ligaments and tendons by stimulating growth factors via an inflammatory healing cascade. After the injections, which may be weekly for a few weeks but this varies a lot, a person can notice pain (after the anesthetic wears off), stiffness, or bruising. One physician found a few chlorophyll pearls (fat soluble, from Standard Process) helps with the pain and with healing.