Ask the Naturopathy Expert – Dr. Anouk Chaumont
Natural alternatives to cortisone injections for musculoskeletal problems
Chronic pain can be quite devastating. It can affect activities of daily living, it can lead to sleep deprivation and even depression. Current treatment approaches target inflammation and pain but not tissue repair. Because ligaments, tendons and cartilage have very poor blood blow, tissue repair can be extremely slow and difficult.
In naturopathic medicine, there are 4 different injection therapies that can be performed in order to stimulate tissue repair and achieve a pain free state. The advantage of injecting the remedies in or around the affected tissue is to have an immediate local effect and bypass the digestive system. When you swallow a pill for knee pain, for example, your stomach has to break it down, then the intestine has to absorb it, then it gets metabolized and then dispersed throughout the body. Consequently, only a small portion of the remedy will reach the knee. On the other hand, when a remedy is injected in the area of the problem, its effect can sometimes be immediate and most of the remedy will be utilized.
Mesotherapy was developed in the 1950s for the treatment of sports injuries. It involves injecting a small amount of vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts just under the skin
In order for the remedies to have a rapid local effect on the affected joint. The procedure is very well tolerated and the benefits can be felt within a few minutes. Any type of musculoskeletal problem can benefit from mesotherapy.
Prolotherapy is also known as proliferative injection therapy and it is used to repair and strengthen tendons and ligaments. The main ingredients used for this treatment procedure are procaine, which is a mild local anesthetic, and dextrose, which is basically sugar water. Practitioners might add a few other ingredients, like vitamin B12 for example, in order to increase the therapeutic benefits. During this procedure, the substances are injected where the ligaments and tendons attach on the bone in order to stimulate tissue growth and repair.
Prolozone differs from prolotherapy in that there is less dextrose and procaine used and more vitamins and minerals in the injected solution. The practitioner also injects a small amount of ozone, which is a gas made from pure oxygen that has been exposed to an electrical current. Ozone has been used in medicine since 1911 to treat infections of various kinds. When injected into a tissue, it also helps repair by increasing oxygen utilization, decreasing inflammation and improving circulation.
Platelet rich plasma
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy involves taking a blood sample from the patient, spinning it in a special centrifuge that allows for the platelets to be separated from the red blood cells and serum and then re-injecting the platelets into the affected joint. Platelets contain growth factors and some stem cells and help regenerate tissues such as ligaments, tendons and cartilage. This effective treatment procedure has allowed many patients to avoid or postpone joint replacement surgeries.
Chronic pain usually means failure of a tissue to repair itself and can lead to lower quality of life. There are many treatment options available that are safe and effective and that can be combined with physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment techniques. When possible, exploring all your treatment options from least to greatest risk is what I advise for managing musculoskeletal conditions.