Sometimes traditional medicine does not work. Other times, there just might be an alternative.
Prolotherapy is just one of the many branches of alternative medicine, used in both humans and animals. You may also see it termed “proliferation therapy” or “regenerative injection therapy”.
The practice of prolotherapy dates way back to the 15th century B.C. with Hippocrates. Since then, it has been refined and proven itself true throughout the years. It made it’s way into the veterinary world in the 1970s.
The indications for prolotherapy sessions include, but are not limited to:
- Ligament Injury
- Degenerative Joint Disease
- Degenerative Spinal Arthritis
- Back/Neck Pain
Since ligament injuries are one of the most commonly diagnosed orthopedic problems in dogs, especially large breeds, we’ll focus that. Specifically, the cranial cruciate ligament (often referred to as the ACL in human medicine).
The most important thing to remember is prolotherapy is not the answer for every case. It’s important to have your veterinarian do a complete work-up on your pet, including a physical exam and possibly radiographs. If the ligament is already torn completely, surgery is a much better option.
How does the procedure work?
A mixture of substances is injected into the affected ligaments. This causes more blood to flow to the joint which results in inflammation. This causes the body’s natural healing process to turn on. As the new tissue is formed by the body, the pain is relieved.
Are the prolotherapy sessions painful?
Prolotherapy causes mild to moderate pain. Sedation, and sometimes anesthesia, is necessary in order to perform the procedure properly and with minimal pain to your pet.
How long does it take?
The procedure takes approximately 30-45 minutes. It is an outpatient procedure, however, since sedation is necessary, your pet will need to spend the day with us.
How many treatments are necessary?
A minimum of three visits, but it varies from patient to patient. A physical exam of the joint will be done at each visit to check for progress.
Is it safe?
Although small, infection is a risk anytime you give an injection. Great care is taken during the procedure to ensure everything is as sterile as possible. For precaution, we usually put our patients on a short course of antibiotics.
What about exercise?
Although sometimes challenging, it is necessary to keep your dog calm during therapy. Until the ligament is healed completely, the risk of tearing it through should be kept to a minimum. Leash walking may be necessary. Jumping up and down from furniture and excessive stairs are also discouraged. After several visits and treatment is complete, your pet may slowly return to normal activity.
Can I give my pet pain relievers to alleviate the pain?
No. The purpose of these prolotherapy sessions is to generate pain so the body will heal itself. Pain relievers block the body’s natural healing mechanisms from doing their job. Ice packs may be used if necessary.
Obesity is often plays a role in CCL injuries. Weight loss is another great way to alleviate pain if your animal falls into this category.