Dr. Bacon here. If there is one lab that patients ask about the most, it…
Here in Bozeman we love to be active. From running to biking to skiing to hiking, so many of us live life to the fullest in nature. But what do I hear way too often? “I have to stop running because of my knees.” Or, “I can’t ski because of my shoulder pain.”
On a regular basis, I hear patients concerned that they can no longer participate in a favorite activity due to pain and instability in their shoulders, knees, hips, feet, or some other joint. This is often heartbreaking to them. And it is heartbreaking for me to hear. Those activities that bring them so much joy appear to be no longer possible because they are in too much pain or they are lacking in stability and are concerned they will further injure themselves.
I’m going to cut right to the chase here by saying I have a silver bullet for this type of problem. I know that might sound too good to be true and, honestly, sometimes I feel that way too when it comes to this therapy. But the fact is, it just plain works. It reverses the pain associated with joint damage and gets you back to the activities you love within weeks.
Let me tell you a quick story. Diane was an avid biker and runner for many years. But her knees started to hurt while running, so she focused more on her biking. But then the biking started to bother her low back. She could bike for a mile or two, but then her back would start to hurt and she’d have to stop. When she came to see me, she had pretty much stopped both biking and running and was pretty frustrated to say the least. She had done some physical therapy without much relief and was now taking ibuprofen daily as the knee pain was starting to show up in her day-to-day life.
After taking her history and examining her, I knew she was a great candidate for my silver bullet for joint problems. It’s called prolotherapy, and it’s a regenerative injection therapy where I inject a solution to repair the damaged joint.
Diane wasn’t stoked about being stuck with needles, but she said if I could “fix her knees” she was ready to try it. We did three treatments over the course of three months, and with each treatment she improved. She slowly started jogging again and reported feeling less pain each time I saw her.
By the third treatment, she was back running five-mile trail runs and now wanted to get back to biking. She tried it but the low back pain flared. So I recommended I treat her low back. After four prolotherapy treatments on her back, she was once again enjoying mountain biking and road biking. A couple months later, she rode a centennial and was ecstatic. She also stopped taking the daily ibuprofen and happily reported to me that her knee and back pain were completely gone.
Diane’s story is not unique. I have now treated hundreds of joints with prolotherapy including elbows, wrists, fingers, knees, shoulders, hips, low backs, ankles, and feet. I have seen people’s lives improve substantially by being able to get back to engaging in any number of activities they love, including golf, running, hunting, skiing, and many others.
And sometimes it’s not even about recreational activities, but more about everyday life. Some people get the chance to resume normal work activities or even get back to simple (yet so important) things like walking, holding their grandchildren, or playing with their dogs. It’s why I love this therapy so much: watching hundreds of people get back to enjoying the things they love most about life.
What is Prolotherapy?
So what is prolotherapy and what do you need to know about it? Let me start with the basics. When I treat someone with prolotherapy, I inject a simple solution into the joint that triggers the body into healing its damaged tissues. So, unlike cortisone shots, which just temporarily reduce the irritation of the joint, prolotherapy actually repairs the joint.
Each treatment consists of several injections that only take a few minutes to perform. After each treatment, you can get back to being active quickly. The only restrictions I put on activity is reducing it to 70% of your normal day-to-day activity for the 24-48 hours after treatment. Then you can resume normal activity.
The majority of my prolotherapy patients experience an 80-100% reduction in their pain and improvement in joint function with the typical treatment cycle. Many people experience relief immediately, but the full effect of each treatment takes four to six weeks as this is the time it takes the body to build new tissue.
And because we are actually healing that tissue, you often don’t need future therapy. The exception is when people re-injure themselves or don’t utilize specific support to avoid future breakdown of the joint. But the good news is that re-injury can often be prevented through healthy diet, lifestyle, good body mechanics, and certain joint-supporting nutrients.
Other Benefits of Prolotherapy
Prolotherapy is very safe and the risk of complications is extremely low. To keep the risk even lower, I have a rigorous screening process to ensure only patients who are good candidates undergo the treatment. In order to further reduce the possibility of complications, I do not inject any high-risk areas. Finally, you can also reduce the risks by following the simple aftercare instructions given with each treatment (a couple examples being not soaking in hotsprings or getting massage therapy during the 24 hours after treatment).
Cost is also a huge benefit of prolotherapy as it is extremely low compared to alternatives like surgery and joint replacement (not to mention the long recovery times that come with those procedures). Though cost is dependent on the particular joints we are treating, as well as on whether you are a new or established patient, the range for a single joint goes from $250 to $600.
And if you are a member of Elevate Health’s Enhanced Primary Care Membership Program, you get a $150 discount off each treatment. While those amounts are certainly not “cheap”, they are quite affordable compared to the cost of surgery.
Many people believe that as they age, they just have to expect that their joints will start to not work as well and they will have pain. Well I am here to tell you that is not how it has to be. With prolotherapy, I am resolving people’s pain and getting them back to the things they love. Don’t settle for “I’m just getting older” or “it’s an old injury”. Let me get you pain free and back to the things you love most.
Take care and be well,
P.S. You can find details on prolotherapy (including a comprehensive list of FAQs) by visiting our Prolotherapy page here.