The body depends on inflammation to heal itself. Inflammatory cells arrive via blood after sustaining an injury to repair the damaged area. When blood supply is poor, healing is poor, since the immune cells cannot reach the injury. Unfortunately, a lot of soft tissue has a poor blood supply, such as the injured ligaments of a sprained ankle. Muscles are beefy and red; but the tendons and ligaments are white tissue with poor blood supply. If we sprain ligaments or tear tendons, these structures begin to atrophy due to inadequate repair post- injury. Blood transports the oxygen and nutrients required for healing, and as blood decreases in the soft tissue, so does the ability to heal. As we age, injuries become increasingly difficult to heal and soft tissue becomes chronically weak.
The inflammatory stage is characterized by an increase in blood flow, often resulting in painful swelling. Swelling tells the body, especially the brain, that an area of the body has been injured. The immune system sends immune cells to the injured area to clean up and remove the debris. Sadly, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroid injections, some of the most common treatments used for soft tissue injuries, actually halt the inflammatory process. They decrease the blood flow, and hamper the body’s ability to heal the injured tissue. Although these treatments may relieve pain short-term, by stopping the inflammatory process, they do so at the cost of creating long-term pain by making the areas more prone to worse tears and accelerate tissue degeneration.
When conservative options fail after injuries like ligament sprains or tendon tears, Prolotherapy injections, including Platelet Rich Plasma, can be helpful. These regenerative treatments stimulate the body’s normal healing stages and promotes ligament and tendon repair, which only occurs through the process of inflammation.