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Prolotherapy The Lesser Known Emerging Therapy

Prolotherapy an emerging therapy;

Two years ago when I first heard of PROLOTHERAPY, I did not pay much attention, but when friends and my close family members underwent treatment with this therapy and benefited with it, I thought that I should find out more about it.


This is what I discovered, which I would like to share with members of HWC.




Prolotherapy or Sclerotherapy is a method of treating hernias, hydroceles, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids by giving injections containing saltpeter or Potassium nitrate.


The earliest application has been described by one Celsus a Roman encyclopedic who was not a surgeon, in first century BC; The injection actually “sclerosed” or scarred the area and brought about healing.


Many centuries later, a surgeon Samuel Sharp in 1739 at University of London medical school's Guy's hospital treated hydrocele and started training other doctors.


100 years later sclerotherapy traveled to USA, and in 1836 Professor Joseph Pencoast treated hernia at Jefferson medical college with iodine and cantharides, and it apparently proved successful.


Thereafter, this method was researched and used in various pathological condition by many famous doctors of their time and their method of injecting different chemical in specific location found to give good result was recorded and applied.




The modern day techniques were researched and developed by a group of four doctors led by Dr Shultz an MD and dentist, two osteopathic physician, Earl Gedney, David Shuman,and doctor George S Hackett MD in 1930s.

Unfortunately Dr Shultz's research and his untiring effort to have prolotherapy recognized in spite of the fact that he held top position in his field was never recognized.

Their research in different spheres of the science of Prolotherapy has brought what is considered the modern day prolotherapy;




Amongst the four mentioned It was George S Hackett who in his lifetime (1888-1969) became the father of modern day Prolotheraphy. It was he who coined the word PROLOTHERAPY in 1955.


The official definition in Websters dictionary is “ rehabilitation of an incompetent structure, such as a ligament or tendon, by the induced proliferation of new cells”


Dr Hackett describes it as “ The treatment consist of the injection of a solution within the relaxed ligament and tendon which will stimulate the production of new fibrous tissue and bone cells that will strengthen the weld of fibrous tissue and bone to stabilize the articulation – where the bone and ligament meet, and permanently eliminate the disability. To the treatment of proliferating new cells, I have applied the name Prolotherapy from the word Prolo (Latin) meaning offspring; “proliferate”- to produce new cells in rapid succession.


Dr Hackett , after a practice of 20 years in trauma cases in Canton Ohio, derived that ligament and joint problems were the main cause for majority of back pain, and 16 years later he came to another conclusion that tendon pathologies are also main contributor of the chronic pain syndrome;


Taking advantage of research by Dr Shultz, he utilized Sylnasol to great advantage in treating back pain,whip lash and neck pain. At this stage as mentioned earlier he coined the word PROLOTHERAPY in 1955.His success rate with back pain was 82%;; At this stage his great book “ Ligaments and tendon Relaxation treated by Prolotherapy”brought the knowledge to the fore .In his lifetime he wrote 16 articles on Prolotherapy. His treatment beside other trauma covered,whip lash, low back pain, neck pain, arthritis and sciatica.


His diagram and charts for treating of the diseases are still used by present generation of prolotherapist.




Dr Hackett in his lifetime trained one DR Gustav Hemwell MD starting 1995. Before his death he gave some money to Dr Hemwell ,which was named the Hackett Foundation. This foundation is devoted to teaching of Hackett Technique of Prolotherapy.


Dr Hemwell had become very proficient and for this reason in later years of Dr Hackett 's life he referred his cases to Dr Hemwell.


Dr Hemwell,became a doctor in 1930 In his medical life he did all kind of surgery, saw antibiotics, and many of to days medical discoveries, what made him most happy was the hugs he got from his patient on relieving their pain by prolotherapy treatment. He was a significant force in history of this new therapy because he was the main teacher since 1960 to 1990;




On retirement he gave his practice to one Dr Hauser MD, who now carries on his great legacy by practicing, researching, and spreading the knowledge of Prolo. He has written many books on the subject. His two books are very popular, “ Prolotherapy an alternate to knee surgery”, and “ Prolo your sports injuries away”.This article is based on these books.




The mechanism behind this method of treatment, are the injections that are given containing special medicinal fluids termed as Proliferant, which causes local inflammation. These injections causes local inflammation which is natures way of healing where injury has taken place, for example the knees.


By virtue of the inflammation new collagen are deposited in the area. The new collagen shrinks as it matures. The shrinking process of the collagen tightens the ligament and makes it stronger. It is claimed that this way of treatment has the potential of being 100 % effective at eliminating sports injuries and chronic pain. This treatment can be given to any muscle,tendon, ligament, meniscus, cartilage or joint of the body.




These are substances that lead to formation of collagen,and are naturally occurring protein in the body. They make the ligaments and tendons. There are many types of proliferants.


Osmotic proliferant solution are the most common type and they are dextrose and glycerin. Others are Zinc, Calcium, and Manganese.


Then we have the “irritants” which are substances which directly alters the protein on the surface of cells. Mostly used are dextrose, phenol, guaiacol , Tannic acid and plasma.


“Particulates”, the most common being used is Pumic flour.


“Chemotactics” are also proliferants that directly attract the immune cells to the trauma area. Sodium morrhuate,is derived from cod liver oil. It is very similar to Sylnasol used by Dr Hackett.




These are medicines which are basically proliferants but have their effect to directly stimulate the repair of various cells, organs, and diseases. Polypeptide growth factor act directly on fibroblast which makes collagen.


Epidermal growth factor, Insulin like growth factor, fibroblast growth factor, and Platelet derived growth factor are now being researched and applied.




It is gratifying to note that Prolotherapy practitioners are using homeopathic medicines as growth factor
and giving it to their patients orally during the treatment.


It is said that future of prolotherapy is in researching and discovering new growth factors, which will be applied to treat the patient more efficiently in times to come.




With what I have found, the application of prolotherapy will be more acceptable as its advantages and cost effectiveness are compared and assessed by the general public. In most cases it does not need surgery, specially where knees are concerned. Its application in sports injury has been well established.


It is more relevant to third word countries,as this science can be picked up by our doctors if there are facilities created to teach this branch of medical science. Today even in USA there are no institution which teaches this branch of medicine. Only brave MD's who have learnt from those who pioneered this therapy are in business and teaching other doctors willing to embrace this branch of medicine. It is for this reason that you find few MD's practicing prolotherapy. All said and done it will find its own place in near future.


REF: “ An alternate to knee surgery” by Dr Ross A Hauser MD

“ Prolo your Sports Injuries away” by Dr Marion A Hauser and Ross A Hauser,

Wiki pedia. And Google search, for Prolotherapy.

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