Dr. J. Fred Stoner Highlights Prolotherapy’s Advantages and Disadvantages
Prolotherapy is gaining popularity as an alternative medicine practice among both medical practitioners and patients due to its ease and cost. Dr. Joseph Fred Stoner is a leading pathologist and clinical pain specialist base out of New Castle, Pennsylvania. As a pain management expert, Dr. J. Fred Stoner deeply understands the prolotherapy process, and took the time to explain the advantages and disadvantages of prolotherapy.
Whereas inflammation is often seen as the enemy of joints and tendons, prolotherapy works by triggering inflammation and spurring the body’s natural healing processes.
With growing awareness and recognition among the general populace about the body’s remarkable ability to heal itself under the right conditions, prolotherapy sounds a lot more convincing than it may have many years ago.
However, despite its decades of use, there is still limited scientific data to support the overly broad claims of prolotherapy’s effectiveness made by some of its practitioners. Many in the medical community contend that prolotherapy is alternative medicine without proven long-term benefits and that patients should weigh their treatment options carefully.
What is Prolotherapy?
Dr. J. Fred Stoner explains that prolotherapy is used to treat joint and muscle pain by injecting non-active substances into the nearby injured tissues. The presence of that substance, which is often dextrose, compels the body to flood the tissue with serum in an attempt to get rid of it. That serum contains various healing properties that can then repair the tissue (on top of getting rid of the harmless substance).
Prolotherapy can be an attractive treatment option for those wishing to avoid invasive surgeries to repair damaged tissues. A patient typically undergoes several sessions over a two-week period, receiving multiple injections per session. The injections are generally well tolerated, with a numbing cream being used to ward off any discomfort.
According to Dr. J. Fred Stoner the treatment is also relatively safe, though injections made too close to nerves can cause problems. Otherwise, patients may experience some soreness or bruising for a couple of days after the procedure. It isn’t covered by most insurance providers, but the costs are reasonable, typically totaling a few hundred dollars.
Does Prolotherapy Actually Work?
There isn’t enough evidence to reach any conclusions yet, but early studies suggest it could be effective for treating some conditions.
In the case of chronic lower back pain, for which it’s been used for decades in a limited capacity, the evidence shows it isn’t particularly effective. Studies of prolotherapy being used on its own to treat chronic lower back pain showed no benefit.
J. Fred Stoner states that some benefit was seen in studies where prolotherapy was combined with other treatment options like exercises and spinal manipulation, though whether the prolotherapy actually contributed to those results, and by how much, is unknown.
The study data is more promising in other areas, though the sample sizes are small. One study showed decreased pain and improved strength when prolotherapy was used to treat tennis elbow. Other studies have shown it could be effective for treating arthritis in the knees and fingers, as well as pain in the feet and Achilles tendon.
To summarize Dr. J. Fred Stoner’s thoughts, here is a compiled list of advantages and disadvantages:
- Minimally invasive procedure
- Reasonable costs
- May help alleviate chronic pain in some tendons and joints
- Treatments are relatively safe with minor potential side effects
- Not covered by insurance providers
- Requires multiple treatment sessions
- May do little to help lower back pain
- Limited scientific data supporting its near-term or long-term effectiveness
- May not work well on complex joints like the shoulders and hips
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