History of Prolotherapy

The first mention of Prolotherapy comes from the 1800's, where different substances were used to create new fibrous or scar tissue for the treatment of hernias, hydroceles, and hemorrhoids.

Prolotherapy came to the forefront in the 1940's and 1950's when Dr. George Hackett began to treat his patients with a substance called Sylnasol, a fatty acid. Dr. Hackett, a surgeon trained at Cornell, was an insurance examiner for seventy insurance companies, where his role was to assess disability and the recovery potential of patients. He found that many of these trauma patients still had chronic pain and were disabled even after surgery. His book, Joint Ligament Relaxation Treated by Fibro-Osseous Proliferation, is the basis of techniques used today. He was able to achieve an 80 to 90% success rate with his patients.

Dr. Gustav Hemwall attended a presentation by Dr. Hackett in 1955 at the AMA annual convention. After this introduction, Dr. Hemwall began training with Dr. Hackett and then became the leading practitioner in Prolotherapy. He coauthored with Dr. Hackett the book Ligament and Tendon Relaxation Treated by Prolotherapy. Sylnasol is no longer used as a proliferant, having been replaced by either a strong dextrose solution, or dextrose combined with Phenol and Sodium Morrhuate. Dr. Hemwall retired in 1996 after having treated 10,000 patients. Of these patients, he collected data on 80% of them. According to his survey, 75% of these patients reported recovery and cure, and 24% reported general improvement.

Dr. C. Everett Koop was successfully treated for back pain with Prolotherapy and had intended to pursue a career as a Prolotherapist before he was asked to become Surgeon General by President Ronald Reagan. There are two national medical organizations that teach Prolotherapy, the American College of Osteopathic Schlerotherapeutic Pain Management, and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Medicine. The most current textbook in print, Principles of Prolotherapy written by Thomas Ravin, MD, Mark Cantieri, DO, and George Pasquarello, DO has been recently published.