Technically I hadn’t even heard of prolotherapy until a few months ago so it didn’t get added to my list at the beginning of the year, but once my friend and fitness expert, Laura, started her own prolotherapy, I knew it had to be on my 2017 list. Then I thought, “What am I waiting for?” and made a series of appointments which I completed last week.
So what IS prolotherapy? Here’s my attempt to summarize it in a blurb, based on The Journal of Sports Medicine.
Prolotherapy is also known as nonsurgical ligament and tendon reconstruction, or regenerative injection therapy. Prolotherapy works by stimulating the body’s own natural healing mechanisms to repair injured musculoskeletal tissue by using an injection of an irritant solution into a joint space, ligaments or tendon insertion in an effort to relieve pain or address ligament laxity.
It’s been five years since knee surgery, and despite all the physical therapy, weight training and cycling, I’ve experience a pretty noticeable decline in my knee stability and increase in knee pain and swelling – which is SO annoying and frustrating for someone like me who is frequently active.
I admit that in June, I played a pretty rough game of soccer against some 8th grade boys the size of grown men. Or that time I decided to run sprints at the track after a full hour of boot camp. But seriously, I’m only 36 years old, and by my calculations I still 71 years left of living – am I supposed to just sit around and placidly cycle on the stationary bike? NO!
But this all started well before I played a dumb soccer game. In May of 2015, I squatted down to pick up a pile of goldfish crackers that my students had thoughtlessly spilled on the floor, and felt a horrible snap of pain in my knee – so much so that I limped for days and eventually sought out my surgeon. He felt around and said that he could prescribe me a non-steroid anti-inflammatory, but otherwise I should just, “Take it easy.” Against my will, I took the doctor’s orders but I never felt back to normal.
Normal being able to run 4-5 miles but having an aching and swollen knee afterwards; Normal being backward lunges instead of forward lunges; Normal being creaky, limping down the stairs in the morning; Normal being a fear of small, out of control children running into me at the mall.
The doctor who administered my prolotherapy explained that our connective tissue is like fabric, threads woven together. Once it stretched, it can get tighter (like putting something in the dryer), but it doesn’t go back to the tightness it started with – and that’s where prolotherapy comes in.
What was my experience like? I won’t lie that jamming a needle into various points of my knee was fun. Some of the injections were relatively painless, but some were not. In total, the appointments were short and I left with a very full knee. After my 1st and 3rd appointments, my knee was relatively pain-free, and I was able to workout 48 hours later. With my 2nd appointment, my knee was pretty achy (think intense shinsplints for a day) but I was still able to hop on the spin bike a couple days later.
Now that I’ve had my three shots, I’m pretty darn sold on it. In fact, what other parts of my body I can work on? Since my three shots, I have played TWO FULL HOURS of vigorous soccer (against 13 year old boys, of course), ran 4-5 miles pain free, snowshoed for several hours, and even had a day of easy snowboarding, which I haven’t been able to do since before surgery.
In total, the three shots costs me $650, which is I think is an incredibly reasonable price, with about two weeks between each shot. There was little downtime, and other than the shots themselves, the discomfort was light.
Who else has had prolotherapy? Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Brandon Roy, Tanner Hall, Bode Miller, a string of NFL guys, and the list goes on and on.
I received my treatment from Dr. David at Rise2Health here in Portland, which is where my friend, Laura, also received her shots, as well.
I’m obviously not a professional and can only provide my lens of experience, but I certainly wish I had known about prolotherapy four years ago.