Acute and Chronic Inflammation

Jay S. Harms, MDJay S. Harms, MD

Prolotherapy, simply put, is the attempt to trigger an acute inflammatory response in the body in order stimulate healing. We can almost consider it a way of tricking the body into healing itself.

Steroid injections do the opposite. Steroid injections suppress a chronic inflammation and make people feel temporarily better. Then when the steroid wears off the inflammation returns.

We often forget that there are two types of inflammation – acute and chronic. They are as different as apples and oranges. Or maybe a better comparison would be apples and rotten apples.

Acute inflammations are healthy (health giving) and healing. Small children have acute inflammations all the time and yet remain incredibly healthy, for the most part. Could some contribution to their health be played by their propensity towards acute inflammations? I would say that health is a condition that favors acute inflammation and that acute inflammation furthers health – it is an upward spiral. Many adults, too, will notice (if they take the time to do so) that they feel better, ‘more alive’, after an acute febrile illness than they did before they got sick. Many adults often attribute this to the rest they received while sick, but this is not giving acute inflammation enough credit.

Chronic inflammations are unhealthy and over time result in deposition disease (fatty deposits in the heart leading to coronary artery disease and heart attacks, bony deposits in the joints leading to arthritis, connective tissue deposits in rheumatoid arthritis resulting in enlarged joints, etc). Chronic inflammations almost never occur in healthy people. We almost never see small children complaining of joint aches or pains. Yet as we age and lose our natural vitality and health we all start to experience the nagging aches and pains of chronic inflammation.

This is why all true healing systems often talk about ‘healing reactions’. A healing reaction is a temporary worsening of symptoms followed by an improvement which is above the previous baseline of health.

Prolotherapy follows this exact mechanism and explains why prolotherapy is not an allopathic/suppressive treatment, but is a natural healing modality.

For centuries inflammation has been defined phenomenolologically (that is, based on phenomena that can be verified with the 5 senses) as calor, rubor, dolor, and tumor. These are the latin terms that stand for warmth, redness, pain, and swelling. We all know from our own experience that these are the indicators of inflammation. We don’t need someone in a laboratory to somehow examine our tissues after a sprained ankle and tell us that we have elevated prostaglandins (the chemical associated with inflammation) in order to know that our ankle is inflamed. All we have to do is look at our swollen, warm, red, painful ankle and we say, “It’s inflamed.”

After a good Prolotherapy treatment you will feel sore for a few days, will notice some swelling and warmth, and maybe some redness. Then as the acute inflammation subsides the joint that was treated will often feel stronger and less painful, that is, it will be more healthy – or healed to a certain extent.

As an experienced Prolotherapy doctor I have seen this time and time again, and have also experienced it myself first hand after being the recipient of many prolotherapy treatments.

Prolotherapy proves that healing occurs through acute inflammation.