Neural Therapy

Neural Therapy was originally developed in Germany by the Huneke brothers. It involves the injection of Procaine (also known as Novocain), a common local anesthetic, into various but very specific areas. Neural Therapy is based on the theory that trauma can produce long-standing disturbances in the electrochemical function of tissues. Among the types of tissues affected by trauma include scars, nerves or a cluster of nerves called ganglions. A correctly administered Neural Therapy injection can often instantly and lastingly resolve chronic longstanding illness and chronic pain. Although an estimated 35% of all West German physicians use Neural Therapy to some extent and in the rest of the Western World it has become one of the most widely used modalities in the treatment of chronic pain, most physicians in the United States are unfamiliar with Neural Therapy. Here in the United States, “trigger point injections” are commonly used for pain based on the work of Janet Travell, M.D. It is not widely known but Dr. Travell learned about trigger points while studying in Germany and then returned home to write the reference book widely used in the United States on Trigger Point injections. However, Trigger Point injections are just one type of Neural Therapy. Neural Therapy is also often very effective for other medical illnesses such as allergies, chronic bowel problems, kidney disease, prostate and female problems, infertility, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and many other conditions.

How did Neural Therapy start?
The basis for Neural Therapy started with the use of cocaine as a local anesthetic in the late 1800’s by the great scientists, Pavlov and Sigmund Freud. In 1906, the German surgeon, Spiess, discovered that wounds and inflammatory processes subsided more quickly and with fewer complications after injection with the newly discovered Novocain (procaine), which did not possess the addicting qualities of cocaine.

The famous French surgeon, Leriche, performed the first nerve block into the stellate ganglion in 1925 for the treatment of chronic intractable arm pain. He described the injection of Novocain as the surgeon’s “bloodless knife.” Ganglion blocks are now commonly used for the treatment of neck, shoulder, arm, leg, and low back pain. In addition, Procaine can be used directly in the nerves of the autonomic nervous system, peripheral nerves, scars, glands, acupuncture points, trigger points, and other tissues. Even intravenous Lidocaine has treated chronic somatic pain, including cancer pain.  Modern Neural Therapy owes its discovery to an accident in 1925, observed and  interpreted by two physicians, Ferdinand and Walter Huneke.

They had for years attempted in vain to help their sister, who often suffered severe migraine attacks. During one particularly violent attack, Ferdinand injected his sister intravenously with what he thought was a remedy for rheumatism. While he was still administering the injection, the blinding migraine headache simply vanished, together with the flashing sensation in ůont of her eyes, dizziness, nausea and depression. Her headaches never recurred! After witnessing this miraculous recovery, Ferdinand and Walter realized their sister’s intravenous injection actually contained Procaine. After much further experimentation, it became clear that it was Procaine alone that had produced the startling cure, and therefore Procaine could also be used as a treatment remedy, as well as a local anesthetic.

How does Neural Therapy work at a site of disturbance?
A German neurophysiologist, Albert Fleckenstein, demonstrated that the cells in scar tissue have a different membrane potential  normal body cells, functioning much like 1.5 volt battery implanted into the body. Whenever a cell has lost its normal membrane potential, ion pumps in the cell wall stop working. This means that abnormal minerals and toxic substances accumulate inside the cell. As a result, the cell loses the ability to heal itself and resume normal functioning. Procaine acts on the cell wall to allow the ion pumps to resume normal action and restore the membrane potential. This is how Procaine and other agents used in Neural Therapy correct the bioelectric disturbance at a specific site or nerve ganglion. By re-establishing the normal electrical condition of cells and nerves, the disturbed functions are also restored to normality, and the patient returns to health as far as this is anatomically still possible. The amazing part of Neural Therapy is that the site being treated can be very far away for the tissue in the body that is not functioning properly. For example, a scar on the chin can affect the low back. This is possible because of the vast network of nerves called the Autonomic Nervous System.

What is the Autònomic Nervous System?
The nerves of your autonomic system provide a vast network of electrical circuits, having a total length of twelve times the circumference of the earth, and connecting every one of your 40 trillion cells to form a living whole human organism. This autonomic (or neurovegetative) system controls the vital processes everywhere in your body. It regulates your breathing, circulation, body temperature, digestion, metabolism, hormone formation and distribution. It causes your heart to beat and your lungs to breathe automatically, even when you are asleep. It does in fact control all of the numerous automatic processes without which you could not live. In other words virtually every cell in your body is connected not only to each other through the autonomic nervous system but is also in large part controlled by your autonomic nervous system.

As Fleekenstein showed, scar tissue can create an abnormal electric signal. In turn this signal is transmitted throughout the rest of your body via the autonomic nervous system.  Procaine delivered by direct injection to scars or through other nerves that travel into deeper scars through tiny tubules in the cellular matrix to these areas of bioelectrical disturbance for treatment. As a result, Procaine is capable of eliminating autonomic regulatory dysfunctions. Since the autonomic nervous system is the master controller of the body, Neural Therapy can have a profound impact on your condition and your ability to heal.

In 1940, Ferdinand Huneke observed the first “lightning reaction” or the “Huneke  phenomenon,” discovering that a scar can produce an “interference field.” A patient presented to him with a severely painful frozen right shoulder that had been refractory to all kinds of therapies. Huneke injected the shoulder joint directly with Procaine without obtaining any pain relief. However, within several days of the shoulder injection, the patient developed severe itching in a scar in her left lower leg where she had surgery years prior and just before developing the painful shoulder. When she returned, Huneke injected Procaine into the itchy scar in her left leg. Almost immediately she obtained full and painless range of motion in her right shoulder joint. The shoulder problem never recurred. The  leg scar injection had apparently “cured” her shoulder problem. This was the first observation of what Neural Therapy is capable.

What causes interference fields?

  • Infections.
  • Emotional trauma.
  • Physical Trauma from any type of surgery, accidents, deep cuts, biopsies, childbirth, dental procedures, vaccinations, burns, tattoos, etc.

You then may wonder how a scar or infection becomes activated to become an interference field. General stress ñom illness, malnutrition, emotional stress, food allergies, pregnancy, etc. seems to convert an inactive interference field to one that creates a disturbance.

Why does Neural Therapy work?
I used to believe that if you get all the nutrients you need, avoid everything that makes you worse (allergens, alcohol, ete), and detoxify or get rid of anything that is preventing you from getting Well (mercury, yeast, abusive relationships), your body Will heal itself.

These were the three ingredients of attaining health However, for some individuals even when everything has been done in these three areas, something seems to be interfering with getting well. It turns out to be interference fields from sears, trauma, etc. that are disturbing the instructions of the autonomic nervous system to heal the body.

To understand this more fully, one has to understand that the autonomic nervous system is made up of two divisions. One is the sympathetic nervous system that is activated by stress. It speeds up your heart rate, makes you burn sugar more rapidly, tenses your muscles, and in general increases your ability to “fight or Flight.” The other side of the autonomic nervous system is the parasympathetic nervous system. Its job is to promote healing, digestion, repair etc. It slows your heart rate down, increases mucus and digestion, etc.

The key features of the sympathetic nervous system is that it links all of the cells of the body together, regulates the contraction and expansion of blood vessels, regulates the activity of the connective tissue necessary for regenerating body systems, and it regulates the voltage (membrane potential) across the cell Wall in every cell in the body. While either the parasympathetic or sympathetic nervous system could be overly dominant and lead to symptoms, most people are stuck in an overly reactive sympathetic state. In other Words, the healing mechanism is impaired or “interfered with.”

Neural Prolotherapy Frequently Asked Questions

What is Neural prolotherapy?

Neural prolotherapy is also known as subcutaneous prolotherapy or the Lyftogt technique. It is named after its founder, Dr. John Lyftogt of New Zealand, who has been using this method to treat musculoskeletal injuries and various pain conditions over the last decade with amazing results. Neural prolotherapy is the injection of dextrose or manitol just below the skin (subcutaneous) to promote healing of injured nerves and restoration of tissue function.

The rational for neural prolotherapy is based on Hilton’s Law. Dr. John Hilton was a British surgeon who mastered the anatomy and noted that the nerve that innervates a joint also innervates the skin over that joint and the muscles that move that joint. Based on this Dr. Lyftogt hypothesized that irritation to a nerve that supplies sensation to the skin over a joint may also cause dysfunction and pain to the muscles and tissue around that joint. Knowing that dextrose promotes tissue healing in connective tissue such as ligaments and tendons (traditional prolotherapy) and nerves contain connective tissue, Dr. Lyftogt postulated that dextrose could do the same for nerves. He injected small amounts of dextrose under the skin and noted decreased local swelling, and improvement of pain and function. Thus, he postulated that restoration of nerve function will lead to healing in deeper structures underlying those nerves and reduction in pain. Although more research is needed to prove this hypothesis, the anecdotal evidence is compellingly. The Lyftogt method is now being taught around the world because of its efficacy with minimal risk and side effects.

How does Neural prolotherapy relate to traditional prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy is deep injections to promote regeneration or repair of connective tissue (ie. ligaments and tendons) whereas neural prolotherapy is superficial injections that target subcutaneous nerves. Both modalities result in pain relief and functional restoration.

What is the solution that is injected?

Neural Prolotherapy solution contains either 5% Dextrose in water (D5W) or 5% Manitol in water (M5W). Manitol is a sugar alcohol derived from the desiduous tree called flowering ash and Dextrose is a natural sugar found in corn.  D5W is the same solution used in IV bags in the emergency room and hospitals.

How does Neural prolotherapy work?

Tissue injury causes a release of proinflammatory substances (ie. Bradykinin, prostaglandins) that activate a nonselective cation channel on nerves called Transient receptor potential cation channel V1 (TrpV1), also known as the capsacin receptor. This in turn results in nerve release of substances that cause inflammation, like substance P and calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP) leading to leaky blood vessels (swelling), hypersensitivity, burning and painful sensations. It is postulated that dextrose and manitol bind to and inhibit the TrpV1 nerve receptors, preventing this cascade and restoring normal nerve function.

Injury to nerves by stretching, constricting, or cutting them, also result in the release of these pro-inflammatory substances which can lead to chronic nerve dysfunction and “neurogenic pain”.  Nervi nervorum are small nerves that connect with larger subcutaneous nerves. They are more sensitive to tissue tension changes that can result in nerve constriction, especially at sites where the nerves penetrate muscle or fascia. These potential chronic constriction sites are thought to cause abnormal nerve function and are the primary targets of subcutaneous prolotherapy.

This is a picture of different layers of tissue around the knee.

Below the skin is a whitish layer of connective tissue called fascia. The picture on the right hand side shows subcutaneous nerves and nervi (yellow) that penetrate the fascia and are responsible for sensation to that area.

Below this layer are muscles and tendons that are innervated by the same nerves (middle picture). Below that are the bones and ligaments (left).

Is Neural prolotherapy treatment painful?

At AcuProlo Institute we use the smallest possible hypodermic needle (30Gauge) to inject the neural prolotherapy solution just under the skin (subcutaneous) about ¾ inch deep. No local anesthetic is required because it is such a well tolerated procedure compared to other types of injections.  Multiple injections are done along the subcutaneous nerves. Some insertion points may result in mild discomfort or a sensation of initial burning or stinging followed by resolution of pain.

How will I feel after a neural prolotherapy treatment?

Most patients get immediate significant pain relief after the treatment and some get complete resolution of pain. This analgesic effect may initially last anywhere between hours to weeks. With subsequent treatments less areas need to be injected because the tissue has healed and the pain free duration gets progressively longer.

How often do I need these treatments?

This is different for each individual. Some people may get permanent relief after just 2 or 3 treatments. Many require multiple injections every 1-2 weeks for 6-10 consecutive weeks.

Is neural prolotherapy safe?

It is safe when administered by a properly trained physician. With the proper technique the risk of infection and tissue injury is minimal to none. Possible adverse effects include local swelling, bruising and mild transient pain.  The solution injected is very safe because it is the same solution used in IV bags in the hospital, sugar water (D5W).

What conditions will neural prolotherapy treat?

Neural Prolotherapy is very effective in treating nerve pain as well as any musculoskeletal injuries, including shoulder, knee and ankle tendonitis, neck and low back pain, migraines, temporal mandibular joint (TMJ), and many other conditions.  Many people present to Acuprolo Institute with chronic pain for which they have “tried everything”, including surgery, and still have persistent pain.  These people respond very well to neural prolotherapy.

Can neural prolotherapy be done on a child or an elderly person?

Yes! Since it is minimally invasive and utilizes a very natural solution, it is safe and effective in both the pediatric and geriatric population.

Will my insurance cover for neural prolotherapy?