Eight years ago, a woman came to my office because she was in pain from an ankle injury. The injury had happened 20 years earlier, but now she was experiencing pain every day, whenever she was on her feet. She was scheduled for surgery.
At that time I had been working with a treatment method that had benefited other patients, and I suggested it to her. It is called prolotherapy, and it involves having a series of injections in the problematic joint. This woman agreed to try the weekly injections for her ankle. After we had done a few injections, she felt comfortable in canceling the surgery. Not only that, but she wanted the other ankle done, too. Eight years later, she is still very active, and she never had to have surgery.
In my 18 years as a foot doctor, I have come to base my practice on a single question: Does this patient need surgery, or can I fix the problem without surgery? By no means am I saying surgery is wrong. Often, surgery is the best or only treatment option. However, many times, other alternatives are also available. My practice has evolved more toward natural and conservative ways to treat the foot and ankle.
Prolotherapy is a treatment method that I turn to frequently. It is a treatment that has been around for decades, and many prominent people have used it with success. These include football player Hines Ward, and the U.S. Surgeon General during the Reagan administration, C. Everett Koop.
For me, there is no debate over the effectiveness of prolotherapy. I have seen hundreds of my patients get better with prolotherapy, whether they had a simple ankle sprain or torn tendon, or a chronic problem such as a neuroma or ganglionic cyst.
There are many different kinds of prolotherapy, but basically it involves injecting a solution at the point where the tendons and ligaments attach to the bone. The injected solution triggers the tissues around the joint to regenerate and repair an injury. Many different types of injury and pain can be treated with prolotherapy, and it can be used years after the injury initially occurred.
Here are a few more examples of my patients who have been helped by prolotherapy:
- A 79-year-old male came to me with acute tendinitis in his right foot. He was very active, but had not been able to hike because of the tendinitis I gave him one injection, and he has now been pain free for nearly a year.
- A 60-year-old female had a torn peroneal tendon. She was given the option of surgery or prolotherapy. She opted for prolotherapy and has been pain free for almost a year.
- A 77-year-old female had a ganglionic cyst on her left foot. It had been a problem for several years, and was annoying and painful with pressure. Again, given the option of surgery or prolotherapy, she chose prolotherapy. The cyst healed, and there has been no sign of it for two years.
I have hundreds of more examples like these.
The bottom line is, we should not have to be afraid of getting older, whether we are still working or retired. Age is only a number, and there are treatments out there that will help us stay active and working. Yes, there are times when surgery is the right choice – but if there is another way to fix your feet, and avoid the risks and inconvenience of surgery, wouldn’t you want to explore all your options?
Writer, photographer. Passionate foodie, lover of good books and storytelling. Lives in Globe. Plays in the historic district. Travels when possible.