The shoulder and upper arms are some of the most used parts of the body, and injuries can interfere with everyday tasks such as driving, carrying groceries, and picking up your children and grandchildren. If you suffer from shoulder arthritis, you are likely trying to find quick relief, especially if the pain is progressing in intensity.
There are multiple remedies and treatments for shoulder injuries, including rest, physical therapy, cortisone injections, as well as surgery. Prolotherapy has emerged as a very effective treatment for injured joints and ligaments – as well as arthritis. This treatment has fewer complications than surgery, resulting in reduced shoulder pain and improved range of motion. Another major benefit is that of not having to miss work. Prolotherapy also strengthens partially torn ligaments and tendons. And it improves the overall function of the joint.
What is Prolotherapy
Prolotherapy, also called regenerative injection therapy, uses injectable solutions to trigger the body’s natural healing mechanism. The solution contains irritants – typically dextrose, although other additives might be used by some practitioners.
How It Works
To understand how prolotherapy works we first need to understand the structure of the shoulder. What most people think of the shoulder is actually a complex series of muscles, ligaments, and tendons that provide an impressive range of motion. The tendons and muscles maintain the arm in a “ball and socket” joint, enabling you to perform a wide range of tasks – from throwing a ball to swimming.
Most shoulder issues involve the soft tissues of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Repeated trauma and injuries, such as rotator cuff tears, damage the connective tissue, thereby reducing the shoulder’s strength and mobility leading to an increase in pain.
The treatment options for most shoulder injuries include physical therapy, cortisone injections, rest, and anti-inflammatories. While these interventions will reduce pain, they will not address the root cause of the problem. Once normal activities are resumed, the tearing of the tendon will continue and result in more pain.
Prolotherapy acts as a regenerative treatment that triggers the growth of new and stronger fibers in the affected tissue.
When injected, prolotherapy solutions trigger a healing response and the growth of fibrous tissue. This treatment reinforces the fibers in the ligament or tendon where the tendon attaches to the bone. It also repairs mid-substance tears or injuries as well.
Prolotherapy is often recommended for patients who would like an alternative to shoulder surgery. The following are some of the risks and complications associated with surgery: failure of the procedure, infection, nerve damage, blood clots, loss of time from work, and the expense of rehabilitation.
What Shoulder Issues Can Prolotherapy Address?
Dr. Albert Franchi commonly uses prolotherapy to treat injured ligaments and tendons in the neck, shoulders, back, arms, legs, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, feet, and ankles.
Prolotherapy is also very effective in treating arthritis of the above mentioned joints. Treatments typically relieve shoulder pain, weakness, instability, and stiffness caused by trauma – as well as bad posture.
Prolotherapy is also an effective course of treatment for joint instability that can be caused by ehlers thandanls syndrome (EDS).
Prolotherapy is especially effective for tendon tears caused by overuse of the shoulder. Rotator cuff tendon tears are among the most common triggers of chronic shoulder pain, and prolotherapy is a definite alternative to rotator cuff surgery. Prolotherapy can also relieve other common shoulder conditions, including:
- Instability of the shoulder
- AC separation
- Partial tear of the bicep ligament
The first step to administering Prolotherapy injections is a diagnosis, and Dr. Franchi will begin by reviewing your personal medical history. The next step is a physical exam involving the palpation of the affected shoulder. Dr. Franchi will determine if there are any weakened tissues in the ligament or tendon.
Imaging studies might also be needed to determine the extent of shoulder problems. Ultimately in consultation with Dr. Franchi, together you will decide if you are a good candidate for prolotherapy. Depending on the nature of your problem, it is possible that Dr. Franchi will recommend other interventions, such as rehabilitative exercises.
What to Expect
The injection takes only a few seconds to perform and will involve some moderate amount of pain which is tolerable. You may have some residual pain for the following day.
The protocol is for one injection per week for a total of five weeks for each affected body part. After the five weeks of treatment there is an eight-week follow-up consultation for all patients by phone.