Injection therapy has been used extensively in China since the 1940’s. In fact, the term “Dry Needling” was developed by western MD’s to distinguish between the use of a “dry” acupuncture needle from a “Wet Needle”/Syringe to treat muscle and joint pain. In China this technique was initially used for the administration of herbal extracts, but eventually other nutrients that proved effective in restoring health were added. Today there are a number of different substances used to treat a variety of conditions. Specific treatment names have been established based on the combination of the substance and location administered. This has created a confusing array of treatment names (marketing labels) for the public to ponder. But in the end these procedures are all intended to get faster, more effective results than a “dry needle”. Following are some of the approaches we offer in our clinic:
Originally, the term Biopuncture was coined by German physicians using plant/mineral extracts in homeopathic form to treat pain and inflammation. Over time, as the field has developed other non-drug substances have been incorporated into the initial injection protocols. In current practice the homeopathic preparations are used less frequently due to their relatively high cost and lack of availability. Regardless of the materials used, the term Biopuncture is loosely used to describe a field of practice using low dose, non-drug substances to help treat pain in the muscles, tendons and ligaments through injections into the injured, irritated, or inflamed area. Many clinical studies have confirmed the efficacy, safety, and lack of side effects of of this approach. These treatments are effective for a multitude of acute and chronic pain conditions, including: neck, back and shoulder pain, ankle sprains, tennis and golf elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, foot pain, and other neuropathies.
It has become common knowledge that peripheral nerves may be pinched by a bulging disc as they exit the spine, resulting in conditions like sciatica. However, it is less well known that these nerves can also get compressed as they pass through the various connective tissue planes further along their pathway. This entrapment limits free movement of the nerve, causing irritation and swelling, which further worsens the entrapment. It is not hard to imagine how this could lead to chronic pain. In Perineural Therapy a simple sugar-water solution is injected around the inflamed nerves, which reduces swelling and restores its freedom of movement. In the right situation, this simple therapy can produce quick pain relief with a minimum of discomfort. This procedure can be so effective it is often the recommended starting point for people who come to our office with long-standing pain that has no known cause.
Trigger Point Injection Therapy
The modern term “Trigger Point” refers to an area of muscle where the fibers have been damaged and are now non-functional. In these areas a small lump or knot has formed and is tender or downright painful when palpated. In China they used to call these points “That’s it!” points because that’s what the patient would blurt out when the doctor pushed on it. This tissue damage could occur from trauma or even from something as simple as sleeping in the wrong position. Ever heard the term “I slept on it wrong”? Minor trigger points often heal themselves just by stretching, moving around or rubbing on the area. However, in cases where the muscle tissue has been stressed beyond a certain point these areas become persistent and non-healing. In these circumstances range of motion is limited and pain is experienced when the muscle containing the trigger point is used. The development of Acupuncture likely stemmed from the need for a tool to help reach and break up persistent trigger points. Eventually, with the advent of the hypodermic needle it was found that the needle effect combined with the hydraulic action of a nutritive, pain relieving fluid substantially reduced the healing time. This approach is widely used among professional athletes to recover faster and get back in the game quicker.
Traumatic injury or long-standing trigger points can put a compromising strain on the attachments of tendons and ligaments that surround joints. This level of stress can cause the tissue to tear or pull away from its connection to bone. This tissue damage results in micro-bleeding, and generalized inflammation, which create swelling and pain. Further, the normal re-growth rate of tendons and ligaments is painfully slow so even normal movement while tissues are healing may cause a re-injury of these fragile tissues. This can create a situation of seemingly never-ending chronic pain and re-injury. Conventional treatment uses steroids or pain medications to reduce the discomfort. Unfortunately, studies show these treatments can adversely affect the ability of the tissue to heal. More effective in this case is injection of substances that speed up the healing of the tissue while calming the associated nerves. Prolo-therapy literally means proliferative therapy since its focus is on accelerating the growth of new tissue. These injections typically consist of nutrients, vitamins, and plant extracts proven to relieve inflammatory pain while speeding up the healing process.