Dr. Mark Wheaton

Why is prolotherapy often overlooked in the health care field?

Michael Miller

Prolotherapy has been around for almost a century but is only now becoming well-known.

It’s been helping people that entire time, though, says Dr. Mark Wheaton of Lakeside Sports and Pain Clinic near Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

“High-tech medicine in the last 50 years, such as the MRI to look inside and the surgery or other invasive procedures that often followed as well as the explosion of pharmaceutical drugs, pushed prolotherapy into the background,” Dr. Wheaton says. ”But that all has changed with the internet and people interested in searching for alternatives for their injuries and pain.”

Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, for example, wrote the introduction to 1997’s Prolo Your Pain Away by Dr. Ross Hauser. Dr. Koop, who served under President Ronald Reagan and died in 2013, was able to overcome back pain through prolotherapy, performed by Dr. Gus Hemwall, who would later teach the technique to Dr. Wheaton and give him his first treatment.

Yet, the medical establishment hasn’t embraced prolotherapy.

Dr. Wheaton thinks that’s due to “politics and money.” The big players in health care are the medical device companies and the drug companies. And, since prolotherapy is so simple and natural, there’s no money to be made for them.

“Prolotherapy is not well known,” Dr. Wheaton says. “It’s not taught in medical schools. It’s not a quick fix, but is definitely a long-term, healthy fix for people who want to avoid surgery and drugs.”

No equipment is needed to perform prolotherapy, either, he notes, just needles and syringes. The only equipment he has in his office is a centrifuge, which is used to isolate platelet rich plasma (PRP) out of the patient’s own blood drawn minutes earlier by his nurse. In that treatment, the patient’s PRP is injected back into the patient’s knee, hip, shoulder, or elbow or anywhere there is an injury, “supercharging” the healing and repair process.

“Think of PRP as prolotherapy with the patient’s own blood, which acts like stem cells,” Dr. Wheaton says.

Insurance doesn’t normally cover prolotherapy or PRP treatments, which Dr. Wheaton blames on the outsized influence of big players in health care.

“They’re the ones deciding what is good and what isn’t,” Dr. Wheaton says. “Some people will say, ‘There’s not enough studies on prolotherapy.’ That’s untrue. There are actually a number of good studies. It’s just that they’re not funded by drug companies.”

The use of both prolotherapy and PRP is increasing, though. Many doctors who do prolotherapy are on getprolo.com. Organizations that support prolotherapy can be found at JournalOfProlotherapy.com by clicking on the "Prolotherapy Info" tab.

Samaritan Ministries shares up to 40 sessions of prolotherapy when lawfully prescribed by a licensed medical professional. Documentation of a treatment plan may be required. See Guidelines Section VIII.B.37

This article is for educational purposes only and not meant as medical advice.

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