I haven’t posted for several weeks, but that does not mean I haven’t been getting injections. I feel like the bionic man in some ways, with the goal of rebuilding myself to be better than before. I have now had prolotherapy several times each in my lower back, both shoulders, upper back, and now the area that ties it all together, the neck.
Today was my first treatment on the neck, and it will be my last. It is not that it is more painful than the others, but the idea and execution of large needles going into that area is not just not pleasant, it strikes fear into me, and there are few things I fear. But recently I have come to way risks and benefits much more closely than I have in the past, and I am just not in enough pain to justify having that area treated again. The odds of a mistake are very low, but the consequences when poking around the neck just seem too high to justify even the tiny risk. That said, I did do it.
It has been less than an hour and I have not experienced any dizziness or vertigo which the doctor told me I might. This is good. The novacain is starting to wear off and I can feel where the needles went in. I’m sitting on the couch, not lying down, and am not uncomfortable.
The prolotherapy shots themselves where no different than in other areas. Some of them I felt the needle go in and others I felt the fluid being injected. Probably a dozen or fifteen shots in total to stabilize the area, and while the doctor always tells me to leave the dressing on for 2 days, I will take it off as I shower tomorrow.
One thing that I have found, especially from the shots in the lower back, is that the prolotherapy definitely stabilizes and tightens up an area. By tightens up, I don’t mean making it harder to stretch. Before prolo I would lie on my back,lift one leg and move it across my body touching my toe to the floor. That would often “crack” my back and I would feel better as the vertebrae moved back into alignment. Now that rarely happens as the vertebrae don’t move out of alignment and the area feels much better. I expect a similar effect with the prolotherapy on my neck.
Stay tuned. We shall see.
Yesterday afternoon I had another prolotherapy treatment. It was supposed to be a second treatment of Subcutaneous Prolotherapy (smaller needles, injections into the nerves rather than the ligaments) for my left shoulder and the left upper back. But last Friday i overdid the exercise again and my lower back went into spasm again. So, even though it has only been less than 3 weeks since the first lower back prolotherapy into the ligaments, we decided to treat the area again, but this time the nerves instead of the ligaments directly.
The subcutaneous injections hurt much less than the injections into the ligaments. The needles are much smaller and go much less deep. In fact, no lidacain is used to even numb the area. The needles are probably the same size s those that would be used to inject the lidacain. Still, injections into that sensitive an area are not without their pain.
But the great thing about injections into the nerves is that they take away virtually all the pain for a day or two. I went out last night, watched a baseball game and then had a picnic and my back felt better than it had all week. It wasn’t until tonight that the pain started to come back.
So the challenge of the subcutaneous prolotherapy is how long it lasts and how often it needs to be repeated. Right now, I’m leaning toward the ligament shots as being more effective, but have not yet had multiple treatments into the same area of either type of prolotherapy.
Stay tuned for more as my treatments progress.
This morning I was scheduled for the second treatment on both my left shoulder and left upper back, basically the top four ribs. Although some doctors say the average treatment is between 3 and 6 prolotherapy treatments a month apart, my doctor says he has never had to do more than 3 on any one area. Perhaps, he says, that other doctors have patients with more complicated injuries or perhaps he does more injections each time. He does not know, but I liked hearing it.
Today instead of the standard prolotherapy in which the injections are given into the ligament, right at the bone, we tried a new technique. This form of prolotherapy injects a weaker glucose solution into the nerves in the area. Nerves not only convey pain impulses, but also feed the muscles and ligaments. You can read more about the idea and philosophy behind treating the nerves in this article on Subcutaneous Prolotherapy.
So compared to standard prolotherapy the treatment was vastly less painful. Traditional prolotherapy uses large needles to inject the irritant into the ligament right at the bone. Even with the lidacain to numb the area, the injections themselves can be fairly painful. Definitely worth the pain, but painful nevertheless.
The subcutaneous prolotherapy uses short small needles to inject the nerves which are just under the skin. Also the idea is to take away the pain immediately. By injecting the nerves, he doctor is both numbing and curing the damaged areas. In fact the doctor would not let me leave until we identified any areas of pain and he ahd a chance to treat those areas again. when I left, I was without pain in the shoulder and upper left back, and I ahd about 30-40 tiny bandaids over the needle spots.
It has been almost 2 weeks since my treatment on my upper four ribs on my back left side.In my first update I thought that the pain in the area was a result of the muscle spasms that I had before the treatments. I thought that either it had not healed or that I re-injured the area by either doing the wrong exercises or over doing the right ones. The past week and a half having given me a different perspective.
I now believe the pain in the area is a result of the prolotherapy shots. In fact, the purpose of prolotherapy is to cause inflammation and to spur the body to renew the healing process. Often when ligaments have been injured the healing process gets interrupted and chronic pain ensures. Prolotherapy inspires the body, using all natural injections, to renew the healing process. Inflammation first, then healing.
What I learned from my initial prolotherapy treatments on my shoulders was that muscle pain tends to sunside pretty quickly after the shots. Thus I now conclude that the pain in my upper back is not a muscle spasm but related to the inflammation caused by the shots. When I do certain exercises, or if I find myself standing all day as when I helped a friend in her florist shop for Mother’s Day, the treated area hurts. However, although the pain feels similar to a muscle spasm, it is not. In fact, the pain subsides much quicker than if it were a result of a spasm as well.
Saturday morning I woke, knowing that my back had been treated, but not in a great deal of pain. After each treatment the doctor cleans the area and puts gauze on top, holding it all in place with special medical tape. On the back and shoulders the tape tends to peal and as it comes off bit by bit, it is uncomfortable. So I just ripped it off.
The doctor had told me to leave the bandages on for 2-3 days to ensure healing from the puncture wounds in the skin and prevent infection. He also shared that when he does the treatments in Honduras, they don’t even put bandages on afterward and he has never had an infection. So I’m fine with leaving them on for a day and then removing them.
For both Saturday and Sunday, the pain was no worse than it had been before the treatments, meaning that all I really felt was the same pain I had had from the muscle spasm. even that pain seemed to subside a bit over those two days. In fact, on Saturday I went for a long walk and spent a couple of hours sitting on a rock on the banks of a reservoir talking with a friend.
On Sunday morning I played an hour of basketball. Sure it ached a little, but not so much I could not play! That pretty much sums it up right there. It still hurts a bit, but less from the shots themselves and more from the spasm. Monday morning I went to the gym and might have strained it a bit again doing situps. I need to abck off a bit, something I hate to do. But the important thing to note is that I’m feeling well enough to push myself.
I saw the doctor and again we confirmed that the shots had helped my left shoulder as well. Still waiting for all the pain to leave my scapula area alone, but again, that is more from the spasm than the prolotherapy injections.
Next treatment will be in 2 weeks after the doctor gets back from a trip. We’re doing the right shoulder again. Looking forward to a little tennis before then, though not sure how the current level of pain will be with tennis. I think i should be able to hit though.