The History of Prolotherapy

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Prolotherapy Has Been Around for Years, So Why Are You Only Hearing About It Now? 

Prolotherapy is a treatment known by many names. These include Proliferative Therapy, Non-Surgical Ligament and Tendon Reconstruction, and Regenerative Joint Injection. Prolotherapy is a recognized orthopedic procedure used to alleviate chronic pain in ligaments. This therapy is also useful in reducing chronic pain in other areas like the tendons, neck, and back.

But where did prolotherapy come from? It works by irritating your cells to stimulate healing. So how did we get this treatment that seems so counterintuitive? You might be surprised to learn that there is a long history of healing by irritation. Irritation, caused by a variety of methods, can stimulate healing. The idea of using

A great example of healing by irritation is how your body reacts to going to the gym. When you lift weight at the gym, you are tearing your muscles, and it is during the rest days that your muscles regrow. You could not achieve that muscle growth without tearing the tissue first. Similarly, irritation can promote healing in injured tendons and ligaments.

The first recorded use of prolotherapy was to treat lame animals, by branding. This method of using a hot, branding iron was believed to shock the animal to normalcy. This treatment was widespread in Egypt around 1350 BC during the 18th dynasty. Historical accounts from the time describe benevolent leader Amenhotep III.

Prolotherapy’s rich history continued and Circa 500 B.C., showed up in Rome. Roman soldiers used a similar treatment as recorded by the Egyptians. Roman soldiers used hot branding irons to fuse ligaments in the shoulder. Documents state that this treatment improved recovery time for join dislocations.

Sclerotherapy is a close relative to and precursor of prolotherapy. There are documented uses of vein sclerotherapy as early as 400 B.C. to treat varicose veins. Hippocrates described the treatment as using slender, heated iron instruments. Injecting these hot iron instruments into the veins reportedly promoted healing.

In 1623 we saw the first reported use of injection sclerotherapy. This method involved an injection of liquid into the vein. Injection sclerotherapy was a significant advancement from the historical heated iron method. These advancements marked the first move away from hot irons in prolotherapy.

Prolotherapy’s story continued in the 19th century with Doctor Alfred A.L.M. Velpeau. In 1835, Alfred began injecting patients with iodine solution. Doctor Velpeau became known as the father of prolotherapy. His use of an iodine solution to treat a hernia was unheard of at the time. Around 1880, more research was done on injected ligaments and pain patterns. Rene Leriche, M.D., piloted this critical research.

Between 1830 and the early 1920s, prolotherapy existed, almost exclusively, to treat hernias. In 1926 that all changed when the American Society of Herniologists was born. Members of the society used prolotherapy to treat hernias, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids.

In the 1940’s and 50’s, we saw considerable advances in prolotherapy treatments. Names like Earl Gedney, D.O. and George Hackett, M.D. are still relevant today. The 20th Century marked prolotherapy’s move to joint and tendon relief. Doctors Gedney and Hackett spent much of their careers on this treatment. Techniques have continued to move towards a more regenerative result. Advances in medical technology have advanced prolotherapy rapidly since its earliest uses.

At American Regenerative Clinic, we offer state-of- the-art prolotherapy treatment. Our prolotherapy treatment involves a series of injections into the affected area. The therapy stimulates the body’s natural healing process. Prolotherapy also promotes the growth of collagen, cartilage, and soft tissue. A directed injection to the injury site “tricks” the body into repair itself. The mild inflammatory response leads to healthy ligament and tendon growth. The new growth stimulated by the treatment results in a tightening of the weakened area. Additional treatments allow a gradual buildup of tissue to restore your original strength.

Prolotherapy is less risky and more cost-effective in treating chronic pain than surgery. With a quick recovery time, it’s no wonder prolotherapy has such a long history. If you are suffering daily from chronic pain, you may want to consider prolotherapy. Visit our FAQ page and prolotherapy service page for more information. Ready to get real about your health? Give us a call. At American Regenerative Clinic, our goal is to help you take control of your health.


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