Introduction To Prolopuncture
Prolopuncture is a new formof Acupuncture that focuses on proliferating cells at the junction ofligaments, tendons and bones.Thisarea is called the fibro-osseous junction, and can only be repaired byfibroblast cells.The needle isplaced against bone in Prolopuncture, which causes a local inflammatoryreaction.The inflammationreleases growth factors, which brings fibroblasts to the area.The fibroblasts are the adult stemcells for connective tissues.
Whereas anti-inflammatoryinjections of steroids would be depriving the injured area of an immuneresponse, Prolopuncture would be causing an immune response.This could be considered the anti-lifeversus pro-life approach.
Prolotherapy is an injectiontechnique named and developed by Dr. George Hackett, M.D. in the 1950’s.Prolopuncture is basically the same asProlotherapy, except the needle is solid and no irritant solution isinjected.The solid needle issafer to use compared to an injection needle, because it does less damage toany tissue it passes through.Thebeveled tip of an injection needle cuts like a knife, whereas the solidacupuncture needle has a single, very sharp point that will not cut while beinginserted.Also, since no fluid isbeing injected with Prolopuncture, the procedure is safe to use on any age, anycondition, and with any medication.
How Prolopuncture Came To Be
I would like to share ashort autobiographical account of how Prolopuncture came to be.
At Loyola College ofBaltimore, my pre-med studies were very challenging.Biology, chemistry and physics classes were intriguing anddifficult.My little internalvoice kept asking, “When are we going to learn how to heal people?”
During my senior year in1993, my first semester was spent at Assumption University in Bangkok, Thailandas a study abroad.CamillianHospital in Bangkok allowed me to volunteer and observe different proceduresgoing on all around the hospital.It was a great experience.Watching births, an eardrum operation, bone setting and casting, EKG’s,and going on rounds with Medical Doctors.
One Doctor, during rounds,complained of his patients all using herbal medicine.He said it was very difficult to keep track of how well his medicationswere working because all of his patients also went to Chinese Herbalists.This sent my mind spinning.After growing up in Connecticut with nohints of Chinese medicines’ existence, I realized there was a whole field ofmedicine I needed to check into.
Wandering around Bangkok,and especially around Chinatown, I noticed Chinese herbal stores on everyblock.I walked into these storesevery chance I got, and was amazed to see the hundreds of different plant andanimal specimens.They were allprecisely prepared and labeled, and were so beautiful.The natural colors reminded me of thefall foliage in Connecticut.The Herbalistswere always busy putting together formulas from little drawers of a hugecabinet that would hold all the different medicines.It seemed as though they had memorized what each drawer heldeven though there were hundreds of drawers.
The Chinese herbalpharmacies were always bustling and full of eager patients wanting cures forevery possible ailment.
This discovery of a totallydifferent form of medicine excited me, and also confused me.I had wanted to be a doctor since I wasten years old.Now it was mysenior year and time to start applying to schools and studying for the MCATtest.My inner voice kept asking,“When are we going to learn about healing?”
At the end of the semesterin Bangkok, we spent ten days in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China.At the street markets along withstorefronts I saw lots more herbal medicine.The herb shops were more numerous than America’s gasstations and coffee shops combined, herbal medicine became a true reality forme.
When I arrived back in the UnitedStates, I went to a bookstore to see if there was anything about ChineseMedicine.I found a book called TheComplete Book of Chinese Health and Healing, Guarding the Three Treasures,by Daniel Reid, Shambala Publications, 1994.This book blew me away.I read it constantly, and had read through the entire bookseveral times over the next few months.It started a non-stop train that has continued to this present day.Daniel Reid has done a great service tohumanity by writing this book.TheChinese masters over the last 10,000 years are the true heroes though.
After finding this book, mysimple question as to ‘when will I learn about healing’ was finallyanswered.I learned so much abouttrue healing from Reid’s, The Complete Book of Health and Healing.
At the end of this book,there was a list of different schools where Chinese Medicine is taught.Now the light truly came on.To the horror of my parents andfriends, I announced that I wanted to learn Traditional Chinese Medicine.
First I had to save money tostart my medical education, so I became an Emergency Medical Technician andstarted working for three different professional ambulance services over thenext two years.I bought everybook about Chinese Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine I could find.
Anyone at the ambulancecompanies that asked me my interests, never wanted to know about ChineseMedicine.In fact, they seemedtotally freaked out when I would talk about it.Clearly, this was something I had to keep to myself.So all the books were wrapped in plainbrown paper covers.One of thesebooks was always with me at work, but I never discussed it with others.Sometimes I would try to strike up aconversation about Acupuncture, and would be met with silence and eyes wideopen as if I were speaking about satan worship.It was hopeless to talk about it with anyone.So I just kept working and savingmoney.
After visiting severalOriental Medical Schools around the country, I decided to attend Emperor’sCollege of Oriental Medicine in Santa Monica, California.The school had a very nice feel,offered internships in hospitals, and also had a very busy clinic on campus.
So with $10,000 I had savedover the last couple years and two suitcases, I flew to Los Angeles.There were no family members or friendsfor thousands of miles, but Oriental Medicine was quite accepted in Los Angelesat that time, and I could talk of it freely.It was such a relief to not have to hide my real passion inlife.Within a few weeks I was allset.I had bought a used car for$2,000 and found a place to live.Glendale Adventist Hospital had offered me a Cardiac Monitor Technician/Unit Clerk/Nurse’s Aide job, and I started classes at Emperor’s College.
The classes were allfantastic.Each one continued toanswer my initial question, “When will I learn about healing?”Each class was full of usefulinformation and I loved it all.Welearned about Western Medicine along with Eastern Medicine simultaneously.There were internal medicine classesfrom both East and West, along with the Acupuncture, Herbal and Massagetraining.
I bought a bright red Yamaha500cc racing motorcycle, which was perfect for weaving through Los Angelestraffic.My studying was done atVenice Beach where I also did lots of T’ai Chi and rollerblading.
During my first year ofschool, a classmate was going to study in Shanghai at the Traditional OrientalMedical School there.I went alongand spent two weeks studying in Shanghai and Hangzhou.It was a great experience, and gave mea real view of Chinese Medicine.
By the third year my schoolinternships began.These were doneat the Daniel Freeman Hospital, The UCLA Student Health Center, The Los AngelesFree Clinic, and the clinic at Emperor’s College.I was performing very safe treatments, all according toTraditional Chinese Medicine.
During my senior year I wonan essay contest that allowed me to study in Taiwan for two weeks.The trip was sponsored by Qualiherb, aworld class supplier of Chinese herbs.We went to several hospitals, clinics, herbal factories and researchfacilities.I learned so much, andwas very impressed with the health care system in Taiwan.All citizens are given a health card,which allows them to receive free treatment and herbs at any facility in thecountry.When the people arrive atthe hospital, they are asked if they would like Western Medicine, EasternMedicine, or both?This impressedme the most.
By the end of four years inLos Angeles, my training was complete.I received all A’s except for two B’s giving me a 3.98 average.Now it was time to enter the realworld.
My parents had retired inMarco Island, Florida, which was fairly quiet in 2000.Los Angeles has seven schools ofOriental Medicine and thousands of practitioners, so it did not seem like agood place to start out.Thelogical thing to do was to move to Florida.
So, in the year 2000 I movedto Florida and became licensed to practice in Florida and California.My first patients were my parents’friends.I started working as aCardiac Monitor Technician at Naples Community Hospital on weekends, whichbrought me lots of nurses as patients.I found an office to work out of, and started teaching Tai Chi classesat the hospital’s Wellness Center. Whenever possible, I would give talks aboutOriental Medicine at health food stores, yoga studios, and variousorganizations who needed a group speaker.
By sticking with it, Ieventually built up a practice and was able to quit my hospital job.My treatments were similar to the onesI did in Medical School.Verysafe, and included lots of Tui-Na Massage.
In 2002 I had an opportunityto spend three weeks at the Guangxi Province Hospital in Nanning, China.The Herbal, Acupuncture and Tui-NaMassage departments were very busy.Patients were especially lined up at the Herbal department.The Tui-Na Massage department wassecond with lots of people filling a large room.There were no walls or even curtains separatingpatients.The Doctors wore noshirts and only a lab coat, and all were covered in sweat.They worked very hard.The Acupuncture department was quiet,but steady.They dealt with themore serious pain or internal medicinepatients.Mostpatients received injections along with the Acupuncture.One man walked in with the hiccups,which he had had for three days.The Doctor laid him down and put one needle deep into his wrist area.The man immediately fell asleep andstarted snoring.His hiccups weregone.The Doctors were all so niceto me, along with the patients.Iobserved lots of treatments and was able to treat many patients.Acupoint Injection Therapy was what interestedme most, since Florida had just passed a law allowing us to do injections.
A few months after returningfrom China, I was able to take the 60 hour class required in Florida forDoctors of Oriental Medicine to do injection therapy.
Initially, I only injectedvitamin B12 with an insulin syringe at Acupuncture points.This treatment was actually verybeneficial, and patients loved it.As a way to get my feet wet, this worked out perfectly.
In 2004, I found out aboutsomething called Mesotherapy.Itwas very popular in France.So offto Paris for research.I expected there to be an easy way to find Mesotherapypractitioners, but I was wrong.The only way to find them was to simply walk the streets and look atplacards on the buildings. Iactually had a fantastic time doing this, and really got a feel for what it’slike to live in Paris.First, Iwent to the medical school’s bookstore and bought the two books they had aboutMesotherapy.Interestingly, thebooks were in the same section as the Acupuncture books.Then I hit the streets for a weekhunting for Mesotherapists. Istumbled upon three different Medical Doctors who practiced Mesotherapy. Iwent into these offices to get some information.TheDoctors were very kind to me, and gave excellent advice.One Doctor brought out an orange bookthat said ‘Heel’.He said, “Thisis what you need to learn about.”Another Doctor specialized in pain management and showed me her needlesand how she does the injections.The third Doctor specialized in cellulite reduction and facerejuvenation.She did not give memuch information but told me about the main Mesotherapy organizations and howto contact them.
When I returned home fromParis, I found out more about the company called Heel.It is a homeopathic company inGermany.They just happened to beholding a seminar a few weeks later in Florida on Mesotherapy.It was like a miracle.
The teacher, Juan Mendez,M.D., was such a great guy who has a practice in Caracas, Venezuela.My mind was completely blown by hisMesotherapy lecture and I have never been the same since then.He taught me how to use homeopathicinjectables, which I had not used at all at that point.This was a whole new world that wasdeep and mysterious.Mesotherapyusing homeopathic medicine could really treat everything.There were formulas for every differentsymptom under the sun.I wasalready very knowledgeable with Chinese herbal medicine, but now a new frontierwas on the horizon.
Along with Mesotherapy, Dr.Mendez also taught us a great deal about something called Neural Therapy.This type of medicine began in 1905 inGermany, with the invention of procaine made by a Doctor named Einhorn.Dr. Mendez showed us many differentnerve ganglion injection techniques.Nerve ganglions are like small brains located throughout the body’sface, neck and trunk.The nervecell bodies are in the ganglion, their axons spread out to the localtissues.These ganglion injectionswere so far over my head at that time.I really did not understand much of what was said during the wholelecture.It would take many monthsto really absorb the information.Actually, many years.
So I began buying differentinjectable homeopathic formulas and mixing them with vitamin B12.There were treatments for cellulitereduction, face rejuvenation, pain management, digestive problems, nervedisorders, emotional problems, and just about everything else.These were the main issues that Ifocused upon, however.To thisday, I use the same things that Dr. Mendez taught me at the first lecture.
A few months later Iattended a three day seminar in San Diego, California about Mesotherapy.There were Doctors from all around theworld lecturing each day.Dr.Mendez was there, and it gave me a chance to learn his material better.Another person who impressed me was Dr.Alta Smit, M.D. who practices in South Africa.She really helped me to understand the idea of the matrix,the mesoderm, and how homeopathic medicine treats this region.
The mesoderm is a layer of agrowing fetus that creates all the connective tissues.Science has shown that later in life,the mesoderm still exists.Theadult mesoderm is a subcutaneous layer that is 4-6 mm under the skin.The mesoderm is interconnected by nerveendings, blood vessels, and fibroblast cells.This area is also known as the matrix.The nerve endings connect with the underlyingstructures of the skin.Thefibroblast cells are like the adult stem cells for connective tissue.The skin, ligament, tendon, and fasciaare all created by fibroblasts.The fibroblast cells create the matrix of connective tissue, whichconsists of collagen fibers, elastin, hyaluronic acid, and supportingfilaments.
Injecting fluid 4-6 mm underthe skin is considered Mesotherapy, no matter what the fluid may be.The first Doctor I visited in Parissaid to me, “Mesotherapy is simple, it’s what you inject that is most importantand difficult to learn.”
It was becoming clear to methat the mesoderm area just under the skin would always be sore if there was aninjury to the underlying tissue.For example, if someone had a deep hip injury, just touching the skin fairlylightly in that area would be quite painful.So the amazing discovery was that the mesoderm is sensitiveand has an inflammatory reaction when the underlying tissue had an inflammatoryreaction.There was communicationgoing between the mesoderm and the tissues underneath it.Later, I would find out that this iscalled the ‘Cutaneo-Visceral Reflex.’
So at this point in mycareer, Mesotherapy was my big thing.Most Acupuncture patients were including Mesotherapy injections with thetreatment, and lots of patients were starting to prefer the Mesotherapyalone.It was producing greatresults in lots of different sorts of cases, and I was very happy with mypractice.I also attended manymore seminars regarding Mesotherapy and homeopathic medicine.
I had taken up dirt bikingon weekends.Motorcycles are areal passion of mine.I also had aHonda Gold Wing for longer trips, but my Honda Dual Sport motorcycle let me goon and off road as I pleased.Thefreedom and versatility is so much fun.One day in December of 2006, after enjoying some fun trails, I wasdriving on US 41.A few miles up the road I had to stop at a red light.In broad daylight, with no warning, acar struck me from behind.The carslammed my bike into the truck in front of me and continued to roll over thebike.I was thrown to the left andwas not run over by the car luckily.
It happened so fast, I justcould not believe someone could be so stupid.Rage filled my body, but I was so hurt and lying on theground, that I could not act upon it.My low back, left hip, knee and ankle took the most damage.I did not have any health insurance, sowhen the ambulance showed up, I refused service.
After getting a ride to my office, I immediately set to work on myself.First, I set up several syringes full of Traumeel, which isa homeopathic medicine for injuries, mixed with vitamin B12.My entire left low back, hip, knee,ankle, and leg in general were in a terrible spasm and it was verypainful.Mesotherapy injectionswere done in all the main painful areas.After performing the injections on myself, it was time to do Acupuncture.
Little did I know it, butthis was the dawn of a new era for my medical practice.For the first time, I was doingProlopuncture.Up until thatpoint, I never touched the bone with my Acupuncture needles.If a needle did touch the bone, itfreaked me out and I immediately withdrew it.In my training, the teachers and clinic supervisors had nevertold me to reach the bonewith needles.But my leg was soswollen and painful, I knew drastic measures were in order.As I started doing the Acupuncture, therelief came when the needle reached the bone.
Before long, I had 300needles in my knee area alone which, were all touching the bone or were insidethe knee joint.I went through boxafter box of needles.After hoursof doing the Acupuncture on myself, I put herbal plasters all over my back, hipand leg.By that time it wasevening and I got a ride back home.I took an Epsom salt bath, which felt great.
This routine of doingMesotherapy, hundreds of Acupuncture needles down to the bone, patches, andEpsom salt baths became a daily ritual for me.This is because the leg would go back into spasm every day.It is natural to have such tightnesswhen a traumatic injury is sustained.Our nervous system is just trying to protect the joints.I did all the treatments myself, and never missed a day ofwork.For the first two weeks Ihad to use crutches all the time, because it was too painful to put any weighton the leg.T’ai Chi was my mainform of physical therapy, and every day the leg was performing better andbetter.
What I was realizing throughmy treatments, was that all fear shouldbe left aside.The needlesneeded to be placed at the MOST painful spots and also had to reach the bone inorder to reach the spasms.The muscles would twitch when the root of the pain was reached, and thenthe nervous signal would be released.Afterwards came the muscle lengthening and pain relief.This is the essence of Trigger Pointtherapy.Later I would find outthat the famous Doctor Janet Travell, M.D. who wrote, The Trigger Point Manual,was actually trained in NeuralTherapy in Germany.So the wholeidea of trigger points and releasing the autonomic nervous signals is actuallyNeural Therapy.The Mesotherapyfrom France was named by Dr. Pistor, M.D., who was also trained in NeuralTherapy in Germany.In NeuralTherapy, the same Mesotherapy technique is called, ‘Segmental Therapy’.In the 1950’s, because of World War II,Doctors who were trained in Germany would find political resentment regardingGerman techniques, so these techniques were renamed to “Trigger Point Therapy”,and “Mesotherapy”.
Everything I was doing couldall be traced back to Neural Therapy from Germany.The main difference is that Neural Therapy also included theinjection of procaine, a mild anesthetic also known as Novacaine.Back at that time, though, all I knewwas that the deep Acupuncture to the bone was what I needed and was whatworked.
By the late Spring I wasfeeling much better and returned to playing in table tennis tournaments andriding my street motorcycle.A fewmonths later I bought another dirt bike and was back on the trails.There was still a great deal of pain inmy low back, hip, knees and ankles, but I struggled through it.The pain was very tiring, however, andmy limitations were always apparent.
At a seminar, sitting with my Teacher at lunch, we discussed our pains and injuries. He told me how much Prolotherapy had helped him and I was very curious.
I had heard of Prolotherapyfrom a Massage therapist who said it helped her back and knee pain.When she told me it involved causinginflammation with an irritant injection, I immediately rejected the idea andthought it was nuts.Everythingthat had been taught to me in school and through the media pointed toinflammation as the ‘Bad Guy’.Mywhole goal in practice at that point was to stop inflammation.But now my Teacher was telling me howgreat Prolotherapy is.So I askedhim if he could treat my pain and explain more about Prolotherapy in theprocess.
He said many people wereasking him to hold a Prolotherapy class and that he would let me know aboutit.By March of 2007, my Teacherhad put together a class that was certified by the state of Florida and gave uscontinuing education hours.I wasthrilled.
The first class was a bitscary for me, I drove up to toward Tampa the night before so as not to belate.Unfortunately, all thehotels and motels were full in the whole area.I had to sleep in my truck.I arrived lookinga bit rough, but it all turned out great.
We started learning aboutthe mechanism of Prolotherapy.Thearea where ligament and tendon tissue melds into bone is called the‘fibro-osseous junction’.Thisarea is filled with sensitive nerve endings, but is too dense for a good bloodsupply.The fibro-osseous junctionis often injured during traumatic injuries or through overuse, but the lack ofblood vessels does not allow the area to heal.This leads to chronic pain.The nerve endings tell the brain about the problem, butwithout blood, the body can never reach the area with a good immuneresponse.Therefore, the numberone rule in Prolotherapy is that the needle tip MUST be touching bone in orderto perform an injection.Aftertreating my motorcycle accident injuries, this made perfect sense to me.It also gave me lots of confidence inProlotherapy because I knew the only way to get rid of deep pain was to touchthe bone.
With Prolotherapy, not onlydo we touch the bone with the needle tip, but then we inject an irritantsolution to cause inflammation.The main irritant used is Dextrose, which is corn sugar.The dextrose is considered an osmoticirritant, because it causes dehydration.When the local cells become dehydrated, they eventually become injuredand some contents spill out from the cell membrane.When the inner contents from the cell contact the nerveendings in the fibro-osseous junction, the immune systems is tricked intothinking that a major injury has occurred.This causes inflammation.
Inflammation is the onlytool our body has to repair itself.Without inflammation, we would all die.Any little cut or wound would never heal if it did not firsthave an immune response with inflammation.
The inflammation generallylasts a few days, never more than seven.During this time lots of lymphatic fluid and blood floods the area.A fibrin clot is produced which acts asa patch along with being the framework for the new tissue to build upon.Macrophage cells and lymphocyte cellsclear away toxins and damaged tissue while releasing growth factors.The growth factors are the chemicalsignal that brings adult stem cells to the area.An immature cell capable of reproduction and repair iscalled a “- blast” cell, and is an adult stem cell.For connective tissue, the Fibroblast does the repairwork.For bone it is theOsteoblast.For cartilage, it’sthe Chondroblast.During the nextfour to eight weeks, these cells create their respective tissue at the area ofinflammation.After that, thetissue remodels for several months and becomes strong.
With Prolotherapy, the maincells that are proliferated include the Fibroblasts for ligaments and tendons,and Chondroblasts for cartilage repair.The cartilage lies inside of joints, so this requires that the dextrosesolution be injected directly inside the joint.Prolo is short for Proliferate.Prolotherapy is a pro-life treatment that actuallyrejuvenates the joints.
For this first class, wefocused on the hip, knee, ankle and foot.These are the safest areas to treat, and were perfect to startwith.I observed Dr. Swihart doingProlotherapy to many hips, knees, ankles and feet during the clinical portionthat day.We also watched videosof these treatments being done.Iwas able to treat someone’s hip, and had my own hip injected.The treatment was surprisingly easy toreceive.A month later, there wasa tremendous improvement as far as strength and flexibility in my treatedhip.I had truly become aProlotherapy convert, and was sold hook, line and sinker.
After the training, Istarted using Prolotherapy right away.It seemed too good to be true, but torn ligaments and tendons weremending.Long term chronic painwas disappearing.Prolotherapyturned out to be no joke, it became clear that it is a miracle cure for pain.
Every couple of months, my Teacher would hold another Prolotherapy class.The next class focused on the shoulder, elbow, wrist andhand.This was followed by thelumbar spine, then the cervical spine and jaw, and concluded with the thoracicspine, sternum and ribs.So a yearafter my Prolotherapy adventure had begun, I was fully trained to treat thewhole body.At this point my wholebody had been treated with Prolotherapy also.During the training seminars, we all would treat each other.This worked out so great, the chronicpains in my spine, occiput, elbow, wrist, sacroiliac joints, hips, knees, andankles all were cured.I wasrejuventated and felt like a teenager again.
As I was learning how to doProlotherapy, my Acupuncture sessions for patients ended up being my maintraining ground for Prolotherapy.After my motorcycle accident, needling to the bone became a everydaytreatment style for me.With theProlotherapy training, it gave me permission to do this all over the body.
It became very apparent thatmy Acupuncture treatments were much more successful after learningProlotherapy.I certainly did notabandon any knowledge from Traditional Chinese Medicine.Everything I learned in medical schoolwas still being earnestly employed, but now there was so much more depth.The Prolotherapy style in Acupuncturefits perfectly into the entire model of Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM).
In TCM, the main cause ofpain is blood stagnation.Thisfits perfectly into the Prolotherapy cause of pain, which is a weakness ofligaments, tendons and cartilage.These areas already have a weak supply of nutrients and oxygen, mainlysupplied by the lymphatic system and whatever blood that can reach thearea.When there are tears or wornout and stretched ligaments, tendons or cartilage, the nerves become verysensitized.This sensitizationsends a pain message to the brain, and also sends a message to the localmuscles to guard the area.Thismuscle guarding causes lots of pain, fatigue, immobility and depression.It also does not allow a normal supplyof blood into these muscles.Overtime, the muscle cells start to die and muscle atrophy occurs.All of this can be considered bloodstagnation.The ancientAcupuncturists understood this whole mechanism and knew that blood wasessential for the healing process to occur.
The Acupuncture points areindispensible knowledge when it comes to Prolotherapy or Prolopuncture.It gives me a framework to work by, andpain often travels along a meridian line.This helps to trace a referral pain back to its source.The dermatome charts are also great toknow when dealing with pain that comes from the spine, as in radiculitis.Oftentimes, treating the ligaments andtendons around the spine will relieve pain along the entire dermatome comingfrom that the particular vertebrae.
An interesting thing that Icame to understand by doing and studying Prolotherapy, is that ligaments andtendons themselves refer pain and neuropathy.When looking at charts that show the referral from L5 for example,my original concept was that the L5 nerve root was always involved.Prolotherapy has shown me that it couldbe the facet ligaments around L5, or the iliolumbar, supraspinous, lumbosacral,or sacroiliac ligaments that are really referring the pain.Treating those areas with Prolotherapyor Prolopuncture can completely alleviate it.
Also, the pain referringdown the leg from L5 would also cause any muscle in the referral pattern toshorten.This shortened muscle isa huge cause of pain and immobility.Over time, this reflexive tightness of muscles can lead to tendondamage, which makes the tightness even worse.So chronic pain is a vicious cycle leading to severe fatigueand depression.The good news isthat Prolotherapy and Prolopuncture can repair these ligaments and tendons, allow the musclesto lengthen, and restore health and happiness.