I know, I know. It sounds very odd to think that sugar water can help with pain and strength, right? The sugar water I’m talking about is dextrose and it can help with musculoskeletal pain as well as nerve pain. With more and more people seeking non-opioid options for pain relief, it’s worth exploring the power of dextrose and its ability to decrease or eliminate pain.
If you’ve overused or injured a tendon and have pain, a dextrose injection in the form of prolotherapy is worth trying. When an overused tendon is looked at under a microscope, its fibers are frayed and disorganized. This fraying and disorganization sets off pain receptors and causes pain. There is usually physical weakness in the area because of the deterioration. Dextrose, when injected into an injured tendon, stimulates cells that help create new tissue. Other natural chemicals are drawn into the area of the dextrose injection that stimulate the body’s own growth factors to heal the fragile and painful tendon. By prompting this healing response, dextrose decreases pain and increases strength.
Ligaments, those swaths of tissue that connect bones to other bones, can also become stretched out or torn from overuse or injury. Similar to tendons, when the ligaments become fragile, disorganized or torn, they cause pain. Dextrose, as an injection, works to heal ligaments and decrease pain via the same mechanism that works to heal tendons.
Dextrose prolotherapy is a promising treatment for many conditions that involve tendons and ligaments including ligament sprains, tennis elbow, low back pain, sacroiliac pain, plantar fasciitis, TMJ (jaw) pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, Achilles tendinopathy and groin pain.
Osteoarthritis is the loss of cartilage inside of a joint. Often, this creates pain in the joint, a grinding sensation, decreased range of motion, and that annoying crunchy sound when the joint is moved. Dextrose, when injected into a joint, can help the cells that live inside the joint (chondrocytes) reproduce and create cartilage.
In the case of osteoarthritis, dextrose prolotherapy can improve range of motion, decrease swelling and increase joint stability. Common areas impacted by arthritis are knees, fingers and thumbs, and hips.
Muscles operate differently than joints, ligaments or tendons. They get a lot more blood flow than joints, ligaments, or tendons and their primary job is to move bones and joints. However, when the metabolism of muscles becomes impaired, trigger points can form. Trigger points are those painful knots of muscle that create pain elsewhere when you press on them. I’m talking about those knots in your upper back that can cause pain down your arm or into your neck when you press on them. But, trigger points can occur in any muscle.
Dextrose, when injected into those trigger points, have been found to give muscles the fuel they need and break the cycle of pain. These types of injections are called myofascial trigger point injections (MFTPI) and dextrose injections have been found to provide longer-lasting relief than similar injections containing lidocaine or saline.
Nerve pain can happen for a multitude of reasons and can be difficult to treat. It can be the result of poorly controlled diabetes; due to autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis; because the nerve is being pressed on by a bulging disc or a tight muscle; and there are some people who have nerve pain where the cause cannot be found.
Dextrose, in a very low concentration, can help nerve pain tremendously. This type of injection is called perineural injection therapy. Injecting dextrose just under the surface of the skin interrupts the signals that pain receptors are sending, balances cellular pH, supplies cells with energy, and calms inflammation of the nerves.
As people seek more and more non-addictive pain relieving treatments, it’s important to remember that sugar water is an important tool to consider. And while it’s true that dextrose can help relieve symptoms, it has great potential to truly heal the area that is painful and weak. As a physician who has been using dextrose for over 10 years to treat pain, I can attest to the power of this important healing tool. FBN
By Amber Belt, ND
Amber Belt, N.D. is a naturopathic physician with sharp regenerative injection skills, a roller derby enthusiast, a business owner, an animal lover and a Flagstaff devotee. She has been performing regenerative injections for 12 years and can be contacted via aspenmedcenter.com or at 928-213-5828.