Prolotherapy, as it is currently performed, started over 80 years ago and was first described by George Hackett, MD. He was a trauma surgeon in Ohio and noticed that injecting the proliferant solution increased the thickness of ligaments and set out to study its effects. He started injecting patients in attempt to help them. He studied thousands of patients with an approximately 90% success rate. He published his first book in 1956 entitled “Ligament and Tendon Relaxation Treated by Prolotherapy.” It is a fascinating read!
Dr Hackett lectured extensively on prolotherapy. One of his students was Gustav Hemwall, MD who carried the torch of prolotherapy from the 1950’s to the 1990’s and did a lot for propagating prolotherapy. He started the Hacket-Hemwall Foundation in 1969 to help others worldwide. When he retired he transferred his practice to Ross Hauser, MD. Dr Hauser operates Caring Medical & Rehabilitation Services in Oak Park, IL. He is the author of several books on Prolotherapy including Prolo Your Pain Away!
It is an approved procedure by the American Osteopathic Association of Prolotherapy Integrative Pain Medicine. Dr C. Everett Koop, the former Surgeon General of the United States, was a huge proponent of prolotherapy. In fact, he wrote the introduction to the first edition of Dr Hauser’s book Prolo Your Pain Away! You can read Dr C. Everett Koop’s Story here.
The effectiveness of Prolotherapy is dependent on a number of factors. Anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, smoking, and applying ice are all interventions that decrease the bodies ability to mount an inflammatory response and will decrease the effectiveness of prolotherapy.
There is an article written by the physician who introduced me to prolotherapy that describes the mental process that many people go through when they have a painful condition. I highly recommend reading it! Read the entire article here.
Here is an article from Practical Pain Management (Jan/Feb 2007) on Prolotherapy – Prolotherapy for Musculoskeletal Pain
WHY HAVEN’T I HEARD OF PROLOTHERAPY BEFORE?
That’s a great question and I asked myself the same question when I first heard of it. Honestly, I thought it was some gimmick that someone had come up with to make a few bucks.
Most physicians have never heard of prolotherapy. In fact, Dr Koop stated “In my opinion, it is because medical folks are skeptical and Prolotherapy, unless you have tried it and proven its worth, seems to be too easy a solution to a series of complicated problems that afflict the human body and have been notoriously difficult to treat by any other method. Another reason is the simplicity of the therapy: Injecting an irritant solution, which may be something as simple as glucose, at the junction of a ligament with a bone to produce the rather dramatic therapeutic benefits that follow.”
The proliferant solutions are inexpensive, natural, and easy to mix. Thus, no pharmaceutical company will market them. There is no money in developing the substances or the procedure so it is difficult to fund studies. In an environment where there are so many reasons to be skeptical, it makes sense to be skeptical.
We live in a medical society driven by Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) which means that many medical decisions are based on the evidence of a medical practice or procedure derived from sound scientific research.
I have yet to come across anyone who has been exposed to the benefits of prolotherapy that walked away from it doubting its effectiveness.