Treating Auto Accident Injuries with Prolotherapy
Put Your Recovery in the Passing Lane
The Guide to Treating Auto Accident Injuries with Prolotherapy was created by the doctors at RES Physical Medicine & Rehab to educate their patients on the healing benefits of prolotherapy after an auto accident.
Introduction to Prolotherapy
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you may not be able to determine the extent of your injuries right away. As the initial bumps and bruises heal, new aches will bloom in bones and joints, and you could find yourself wondering how to treat a condition you don’t yet understand, and starting to imagine this developing pain as chronic, persistent through the rest of your life.
Car accidents often result in chronic pain from damaged tendons and ligaments, and the most common treatments for these sorts of injuries are marginally effective, expensive, and problematic. Surgeries for these injuries may not be successful, may not even treat the source of your injury, and could result in further damage. Rehab can get you moving again, but may never return you to your former level of mobility and performance, and could leave you with chronic, if tolerable, pain. Medications, on the other hand, offer only the specious promise of pain relief at a high price: potentially lifelong addiction and daily stupefaction. But these aren’t your only options.
Prolotherapy is an injection technique for damaged or weakened ligaments and tendons. Ligaments and tendons do not heal very well, or very quickly, on their own. Instead of performing surgery on a joint, a prolotherapist will inject the area with an irritant solution – often dextrose (sugar water), or another benign solution like saline or hyaluronic acid. This mild irritant sends a signal to the brain to send “help” to the area. This triggers a mild inflammation, which causes the weakened or damaged connective tissue to strengthen itself. The joint will generate new cellular tissue, which gives us the name: prolotherapy comes from “proliferate.”
This is a very old concept. According to ancient accounts, Roman physicians inserted hot needles into gladiators’ shoulders to tighten the joint capsules. While this may have been a primitive practice, both elements of the treatment remain in use today. Orthopedic surgeons still heat up joint capsules to contract the joints (though they use copper wires instead of needles). Prolotherapists, meanwhile, use needles, albeit with a more “pointed” purpose: delivering solutions that encourage natural healing and growth.
If you’ve been in an accident, treating auto accident injuries with prolotherapy might be the best option for you. Keep reading to learn more about the treatment.
Advantages of Treating Auto Accident Injuries with Prolotherapy
Potentially, prolotherapy treatments can strengthen the treated joint, improve joint function, prevent joint degeneration, prevent the development of arthritis, and eliminate pain related to the join damage. Depending on the extent of the injuries from your auto accident, you may need a combination of treatments, including surgery, rehab, and medication. However, there’s a good chance that prolotherapy will be the best solution to some of your pains, especially joint pains, back pains, and even migraines. You should consider the benefits of prolotherapy and the costs of other therapies before you commit to any treatment.
Benefits of prolotherapy include:
“Honest” Pain Relief
Pain is a signal that something isn’t well, or that something is in danger of further injury. Medications only mask pain; they come with negative side effects, and could even pose a risk of addiction. Prolotherapy doesn’t mask pain, but prolotherapy is a very effective form of pain relief. It reduces pain quickly because it speeds up healing.
Many of our patients come to us with opiate addictions from injuries that they sought to treat in other ways. We try to address these addictions (through our suboxone program) and then evaluate the option of prolotherapy in each case.
Minimally Invasive, Low Risk of Further Injury
Besides the prick of the needle – a pain minimized with local anaesthesia and an experienced prolotherapist’s skill – prolotherapy is minimally invasive. If you choose prolotherapy you aren’t risking the damage, pain, and additional recovery time of surgery. While you risk further injury in rehab, prolotherapy strengthens injured joints quickly, boosting your performance in rehab and reducing the risk of further injury.
Short Recovery Time
When you have damaged joints and tendons, prolotherapy will have you back to improved and even full mobility more quickly than if you elect for surgery. You might see results after one treatment. Depending on the injury, you should be ready to return to strenuous physical activity after three to four treatments. If successful, you could be feeling better than before your injury after as few as six treatments. As you know, the longer your mobility is limited, the less active your lifestyle will be, and this will have a negative impact on your overall health.
Surgery might fix an issue in the short term, but it could leave your joint weaker than when you were at your peak performance level. Treating auto accident injures with prolotherapy encourages natural growth, and as such is often a better long-term solution to joint injuries. In fact, most people come back with stronger joints and ligaments than before their injury, because of the stimulated recovery.
Common Auto Accident Injuries and How Prolotherapy Can Help
The most common car accident injuries include damage to the ligaments of the neck and spine, damage throughout the area most seatbelts cover, and traumatic brain injuries. Much of the pain you experience after a car accident comes from tendon or ligamental laxity. Treating auto accident injuries with Prolotherapy can address this.
Your priority in the moments after a car accident, though, is your immediate safety, not your plans for long-term care. After an accident, if your car is operable and you are capable of driving it, move it off the road and to a safe location nearby. If your car is not operable or if it will not be possible to move it from the road, leave your car when it’s safe to do so and remain away from the traffic until emergency responders come. Call 911 if you can do so.
Some injuries will be immediately recognizable. If you are bleeding, or have a broken bone, you need to seek emergency medical treatment.
You don’t need to be bleeding or have a broken bone to require emergency care, however. If you have a powerful headache, dizziness, nausea, or debilitating confusion, these may be indications of traumatic brain injury. If you experience these symptoms, you should go to the emergency room.
Other injuries may not manifest themselves for days. Injuries from whiplash, for example, which come from damage to the ligaments and tendons of the neck and shoulders, may not start to hurt for up to two days after the accident. Damage to your knees and hips from an impact with the steering wheel and dashboard, too, could feel like bruises, but have much deeper roots. Your treatment at the emergency room, then, will not suffice as an evaluation of all the injuries you may have sustained.
Whiplash – Head and Neck Pains
“Whiplash” is the most common auto accident injury. The “whipping” motion as your head is tossed forward, backward, and forward again in a crash causes injury to the ligaments and tendons connecting your head to your neck and shoulders. You could experience restricted mobility and pain from movement, as well as chronic pain stemming from the damaged tissues. While there may be some muscle damage involved, rehab is not likely to address the injury and eliminate the pain.
Prolotherapy will address ligamental laxity in your neck and shoulders, reducing and eventually eliminating pain from movement. Some chronic migraines also stem from the craniocervical junction, the point where the skull and cervical spine meet. Ligaments here can be stretched and weakened by whiplash from a car accident. By strengthening the craniocervical ligaments, prolotherapy could reduce or end your migraines.
Most knee pain after a car accident will come from tendon or ligament damage. The violent motion and impact of a car accident can damage the ligaments and tendons in this joint capsule. Surgeries on this site are risky and pain medications do nothing to heal. Treating auto accident injuries with prolotherapy can increase blood flow to the area and encourage healing through white blood cells.
Overstretched and damaged ligaments might be causing hip pain after an auto accident. Too many athletes try to treat pain like this with a “wait and see” attitude, using over-the-counter pain relief and anti-inflammatory drugs, and hoping it goes away. Prolotherapy could thicken hip-ligaments and increase tensile strength, relieving pain, improving performance, and reducing the likelihood of future injury.
While the benefits of seatbelts far outweigh the costs, victims of an auto accident often suffer injuries to the brachial plexus, the network of nerves connecting the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand, because of the seat belt. In car accidents, these nerves can become stretched, compressed, or – in serious cases – even torn. Brachial plexus injuries are common in sports – called “stingers” or “burners,” they cause temporary pain or numbness. Brachial plexus injuries from auto accidents, however, can result in long-term pain and discomfort and even paralysis. While a nerve graft or transfer may be required to fix these most serious brachial plexus injuries, prolotherapy might be a better and safer choice to address pain and numbness.
Many kinds of shoulder and back pains trace to ligament and tendon damage. These could include:
- Dislocation and subluxation (minor dislocation)
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Lumbar spine (lower back)
- Thoracic spine (upper back)
- Cervical spine (neck)
- Bulging discs
An automobile can also cause damage to the spine that will accelerate spine aging. Full treatment for such a condition may involve other therapies such as chiropracty and physical therapy, but treating auto accident injuries with prolotherapy can help immensely with the recovery process and with pain management.
If you’ve had surgery to treat an injury or other condition, you might be left with ligamental laxity – lose joints. This can seriously impact your performance. Treating auto accident injuries with Prolotherapy can return you to your peak performance level sooner by strengthening joints left loose and sore after surgery.
Preventing Further Injuries
As a rule, for every unit of increased ligamental thickness, strength increases by the fourth power. Because injured joints are more susceptible to additional injuries later on, an experienced prolotherapist can safely “overshoot” in treatments and encourage a joint to heal “past” its original strength, reducing the likelihood of future injuries.
Common Questions About Treating Auto Accident Injuries with Prolotherapy
How long does treating auto accident injuries with prolotherapy take to work?
The number of prolotherapy treatments required for a full recovery will depend upon the type of injury sustained. On average, following a serious injury, it will take a patient four to six weeks to see a significant response. Larger areas take longer to heal than smaller ones. Injuries to wrists, ankles, and elbows will take less time to heal than injuries to knees and hips, which will take less time to heal than injuries to the back.
If you’ve suffered common auto accident injuries, you may be dealing with stiffness and soreness in your joints, migraines or other severe headaches, numbness or tingling in your limbs, irregular sleep, and depressed or unstable mood. While one session of prolotherapy won’t relieve all pain and return your joints to their former level of functioning, you will experience some immediate pain relief that could reduce or relieve these other symptoms. You should see an overall improvement of your quality of life following one or two prolotherapy sessions following your car accident.
Is prolotherapy painful?
The pain from prolotherapy will vary. The level of discomfort is comparable to that of any intravenous injection, and will depend in part on the area and on the skill of the technician. The procedure is quick, though, and discomfort is not lasting. With a local anaesthetic and a competent prolotherapist, you may feel almost nothing.
Can I take anti-inflammatory drugs while undergoing prolotherapy?
While your first instinct when faced with pain may be to take an NSAID medication anti-inflammatory drugs will impair the healing process and work directly against your prolotherapy treatments. Inflammation is a necessary part of the body’s natural healing process. It may cause discomfort, but it draws blood rich in platelets and white blood cells to the injured area to speed up recovery. Prolotherapy triggers this inflammatory reaction in areas that don’t heal well precisely because they don’t normally experience inflammation. If you elect to undergo prolotherapy for treating auto accident injuries, you must not counteract the treatment by taking anti-inflammatory drugs.