Acupuncture, Trigger Points and Prolotherapy

Marc Darrow, MDMarc Darrow, MD


Acupuncture, although used for at least 5000 years in China, was not well known or widely accepted as a therapeutic treatment in the Western medical community, until recently.

Acupuncture is based on Eastern philosophical premise that all matter is permeated with energy–called Chi–which flows in patterns in the body called meridians. An obstruction of these patterns interferes with basic vitality by disrupting the energy flow. This is analogous to cholesterol plaques clogging the precious flow of blood through our circulatory system. The needles used in acupuncture are inserted into the skin at precisely mapped meridian points which affect the flow of the Chi, redirecting or restoring it until the energy flow patterns are balanced and health is restored. Without surprise, most acupuncture points have been mapped to be the exact same points as trigger points.

Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger Point Therapy also uses needles to eliminate irregularities in the body’s normal functioning, in this case the taut bands of pathological muscle tissue are known as trigger points. However, tendons, ligaments and joint capsules may also refer pain to areas distant from the actual trigger point. Tender points, which are points that are sore with pressure or palpation of the doctor’s hand, may also be treated with trigger point injections or Prolotherapy. Unlike the dry needle of acupuncture, the trigger point or Prolotherapy needles deliver fluid to the target area to be treated. By puncturing the tissue, trauma to the area is caused, resulting in a rush of white blood cells to the area that provokes a reaction and stimulates the healing process. Frequently, in trigger point therapy the physician will use a local anesthetic solution such as lidocaine to relieve the pain as well.

Acupuncture needles act as “magnetic” attractants to steer the Chi energy into proper channels. However, acupuncture needles can also be used in a pecking fashion and reach the same end as trigger point therapy or Prolotherapy. The deep tissue injection of the trigger point attacks the problem directly, causing physical changes and subsequent, histological composition of the tissue provoked by the needle.

Since acupuncture works on the energy flowing through the entire body, it is effective on all parts including the organs. At present, trigger point is used exclusively for myofascial pain and dysfunction.


Prolotherapy takes trigger point theory a step further, by adding an irritant solution, like dextrose or phenol to the injection process. This irritant solution helps speed up the proliferation of new collagen tissue.

It is highly effective for rejuvenation of joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Acupuncture, trigger point therapy, and Prolotherapy are basically variations of the same therapeutic process, all originating from ancient medical arts, best known in China and Greece.

Diverse though they are, all three therapies use needles and all have been very successful, often exceeding or succeeding where traditional treatments have failed.

Simple but sophisticated, based on theories of healing dating back several centuries, Prolotherapy has been honed over the last five decades into an incredibly successful, natural therapy, proven to correct many of the deeper, structure-related problems such as chronic pain and myofascial pain.

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