What is Prolozone?
Prolozone is a blend of two different treatments: prolotherapy and ozone therapy. Prolotherapy is a nonsurgical treatment which stimulates healing. Ozone therapy involves injecting ozone gas into joints or surrounding tissues such as muscles, or close to inflamed or injured tendons and ligaments. Ozone gas is a form of oxygen made up of three atoms of oxygen. It is highly reactive and when injected into the body immediately stimulates the body to form various anti-inflammatory chemicals.
When you combine the two, prolotherapy and ozone gas, you get Prolozone therapy.
I’ve never heard of it before!
Both prolotherapy and ozone therapy have been around for awhile. Ozone gas has been used medically for many years, mostly outside of the US. In the last 15 years it has become better known in the US, thanks in large part to the efforts of Frank Shallenberger, MD, who was one of the first US physicians to train in its use in Europe. He is currently the President of the American Academy of Ozonotherapy and a member of the He is also the physician who developed Prolozone therapy.
What kind of conditions is it used for?
Prolozone therapy is most often used for arthritic or injured joints, but it has a much wider use. It can be used for many non-joint related conditions as well. My most common non-joint use is for the treatment of muscle trigger points, a frequent cause of lower back pain.
Prolozone therapy has successfully treated the following conditions:
- tendonitis (any joint)
- tennis/golfer’s elbow
- low back pain
- herniated/bulging disc
- hip pain
- knee pain
- leg, foot, & ankle pain
- neck pain
- plantar fascitis
- sciatic pain
- shoulder pain
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- repetitive stress injuries
- trigger points
What’s a trigger point?
Most people are familiar with a “charlie horse” of their calf muscle. A charlie horse is basically a muscle cramp. The difference between a charlie horse and a trigger point is their size. A trigger point is a very small focus of cramping within the muscle. Many people have them in the upper back/shoulder area. They are focal areas of tenderness and may even be felt as an area of focal hardness or thickening. The rest of the muscle surrounding the trigger point is fine.
The problem with trigger points is not only can they cause pain where they are located, but they can also cause pain somewhere else. This is called referred pain because the location of the pain is not where the cause of the pain is located; it is referred from elsewhere, sometimes from a great distance.
Here are several examples. TP’s in the shoulder can cause pain in the wrist. TP’s in the buttocks can cause pain down the leg, into the knee, or even into the foot.
What is a treatment like?
It depends on whether I am treating a joint or TP’s. In both cases, a small amount of local anesthetic is injected either into the joint or the TP. The anesthetic is also mixed with homeopathic medicine. After the joint or TP has been numbed up, a small amount of ozone gas is then injected. It is not uncommon for the patient to feel immediate relief that in some cases is long lasting. It is usual to receive 4-6 treatments spread out over several weeks or months.
Does it hurt?
Patients will usually feel a “pinch” when the local anesthetic is injected into a TP. If there are multiple TP’s, there will be multiple pinches. With joints, there often isn’t even a pinch feeling because a cold, skin refrigerant is used to numb the skin before the needle is placed into the joint. Some patients will experience local soreness of the TP area because of the needle stick but that usually is mild and resolves quickly in a day or so.
What kind of results can I expect?
Every patient is different so results differ. Patients with mild to moderate degenerative changes of a joint may expect very good results. If someone has severe degenerative changes, the treatments may help relieve some of the pain. If someone has been told they need a total joint replacement, depending on their age, they may want to try a series of treatments to see if they either get sufficient pain relief, or enough relief to help them put off surgery for a while. Total joint replacements do not last forever and will usually need to be redone some years later. The longer the first surgery can be put off the better in the long run for the patient.
TP’s and other non-joint related conditions, such as tendonitis or partially torn tendons and ligaments often respond quite well to a series of injections. Many times there is significant improvement after the first treatment. Each treatment tends to have a cumulative healing effect with progressive pain relief over time.