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Alternative Pain Management

Sclerotherapy / Prolotherapy

Sclerotherapy (also known as prolotherapy) is considered a form of alternative pain management treatment in which the body’s own natural healing process is relied upon to strengthen joints, ligaments, and tendons. In other applications, sclerotherapy has been reported to also treat varicose veins, esophageal varicies, hemorrhoids, or hernias specifically. This form of alternative pain management focuses on regeneration as opposed to degeneration often experienced with other pain management therapies and techniques, such as cortisone injections.

Sclerotherapy and prolotherapy apply an injection of irritating substances to the painfully affected areas to produce a healing type of inflammatory response in tissues. The injection procedure for these alternative therapies for pain management is done on an outpatient basis. Typically, the results of sclerotherapy and prolotherapy provide patients with permanent stabilization – often stronger than the original supportive tissues – which means a great recovery and long-term pain relief.

Before Sclerotherapy/Prolotherapy
Based on a patient’s individual pain condition, the specific type and amount of injection solution will be determined by our pain management physician.

During Sclerotherapy/Prolotherapy
Using a needle, the solution is injected into the affected area where the ligament or tendon is worn down or torn. Many points in the affected area may be injected. Over the next few days, cells called "macrophages" are attracted into the area by the presence of the irritant solution. Once they arrive, these macrophages work to remove the irritant solution. As the macrophages finish, the body sends in "fibroblasts" (or connective tissue builders) to lay down new fibrous tissue wherever damage is detected. This fibroblastic activity strengthens the affected areas; thus, improving pain.

After Sclerotherapy/Prolotherapy
This alternative pain management treatment may result in mild swelling and stiffness; however, any discomfort usually passes fairly rapidly and can be reduced with pain relievers, such as Tylenol. Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, should not be used because their action suppresses the desired inflammation process. Depending on the size of the affected joints, treatment may be administered in a series of 3-6 injections, usually two weeks apart.