Neural therapy is a non-opioid pain relief treatment that involves injecting local anesthetics to regulate the autonomic nervous system.
Neural therapy has a long history of use in both Europe and North America. The treatment, also called neural prolotherapy or perineural injection therapy, was originally a complementary technique, designed to help people with autonomic nervous system dysfunction. However, in the U.S., it is becoming a standard treatment for people with chronic pain
Neural therapy appears safe and effective. Physicians can use the treatment as a standalone intervention or alongside conventional pain-relief medications.
Chronic pain conditions often relate to problems with the autonomic nervous system – the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary actions of the body, such as digestion, and heartbeat. If you are healthy, these processes continue without you noticing them. However, if you have autonomic dysfunction, they can cause pain or distress.
Practically every cell in the body interfaces with the autonomic nervous system. It regulates all the processes that keep us alive, including those that require coordination between multiple tissues, such as immune function, hormone production, body temperature, etc.
Having every cell in our body connected to the ANS is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a good thing because it lets our bodies maintain balance. However, it can be a bad thing after an injury.
During trauma, the ANS increases circulation to wounded parts of the body. This process facilitates the delivery of repair materials, allowing the affected area to heal.
Unfortunately, circulation changes don’t always return to normal after the injury, causing what medical professionals call “interference fields.” Regions affected by interference fields misinterpret signals from nerves, leading to chronic pain conditions.
Scarring is a common cause of interference fields. When tissues do not return to their original configuration, it can cause some people to experience pain close to the scar. Scarred areas may feel sore and tight, and could require regular massage. In other cases, the scar’s field of influence may extend beyond the original site, causing pain in seemingly unrelated areas of the body. For example, scarring from Cesarean sections can cause interference patterns that cause patients to experience migraines.
The goal of neural therapy is to restore the correct configuration of neural fields, thereby helping the ANS function normally again. Treatment attempts to shock the ANS into a different state, helping to make conventional therapies more effective.
Neural therapy works by correcting the abnormal electrical surface charge of injured tissues responsible for chronic pain and other medical conditions. During treatment, practitioners inject local anesthetics into abnormal cells. Changes occur in electric charge, preventing the formation of interference fields that disrupt the ANS. Toxins leave cells, and healing nutrients can enter the affected tissues. Pain in the area reduces, and the body is better able to repair itself.
Neural therapy typically begins with a consultation with a licensed practitioner. Medical professionals interview you about your pain, chronic conditions, and trauma sites around your body. They then develop a treatment plan to address the issues you raise.
During treatment, practitioners inject anesthetics into tissues just below the skin’s surface. The injection site could be scar tissue, a gland, or trigger points. How many injections you require depends on your case. In some instances, doctors may only perform a single injection. In others, they may perform several, covering a larger area of your body.
Depending on the location of the interference field, you may require deeper injections. These help to restore the natural flow of electrical energy throughout your body. You may need them for crush injuries, or chronic conditions that affect deeper tissues.
Physicians may also perform ancillary injections to enhance the effectiveness of the primary injection. For example, after injecting scar tissue, they may inject surrounding veins, encouraging nutrient transport to the region. Throughout treatment, the goal is to stabilize your autonomic nervous system.
The type of anesthetic your doctor uses is at their discretion. Most patients receive either lidocaine or procaine. Both of these substances alter the electrical activity within cells, calming them down and reducing discomfort in the target area.
Neural therapy is not a painful treatment. While there is some discomfort at the injection site, it is no different from a regular injection. Furthermore, once the anesthetic enters the target tissue, it eliminates all sensations. As such, you shouldn’t feel any pain from subsequent injections.
Of course, the level of discomfort you experience depends on the nature of the affected tissue. People with deep scars or high sensitivity may experience more pain than others.
How many injections you require depends on your medical condition. Most patients need anywhere between three and ten per session, but you may require more.
While you can experience improvements in their symptoms after a single neural therapy session, you often require more than one. If you decide to undergo treatment, you will need, on average, between six and sixteen sessions at one to three-week intervals.
Progress after the first session can be small. However, treatment effectiveness increases in subsequent sessions. Patients report a rapid reduction in both local and deferred pain, owing to improved regulation of the ANS.
Before you receive neural therapy, practicing physicians will test for interference fields. Discovering their location shows them where they should target treatment.
Until recently, the methods for detecting interference fields were inaccurate. Techniques couldn’t quite pinpoint the location of affected tissues, reducing the effectiveness of injections.
Some physicians, for instance, used temporal association. This technique involves identifying when symptoms began to locate the interference field. For example, if chronic pain started after dental work, the temporal field is likely in the mouth or jaw.
Later, physicians developed a more empirical approach. This method involved correlating known illnesses with areas of pain. Diabetes patients, for instance, often feel pain in their extremities.
As techniques improved, they became more systemic. Physicians moved from identifying single trauma sites to asking patients about their entire history of injuries. They then used this information to treat tissues across the body more generally, instead of just focusing on a single area. Such approaches were popular because they were objective, using measurements to determine treatment patterns.
Unfortunately, none of these techniques were as accurate as patients required. While there was some success, objective identification of interference fields remained a challenge.
However, thirty years ago, there was a paradigm shift. Doctors began using patient feedback to identify regions of concern, using a technique called Autonomic Response Testing (ART) developed by Louise Williams and Dietrich Klinghardt.
The first step is to find out whether your ANS is “open” or “blocked.” If your ANS is open, it means that physicians can identify the interference field. If it is blocked, it means that the ANS is dysfunctional and interference fields are untestable.
To determine the configuration of your ANS, physicians perform a series of tests, usually on the biceps. They begin by asking you to lay down and then bend your arm at 90 degrees so that it faces upwards. They will then put pressure on the first scar you ever got while trying to push your arm down at the same time. If your muscular resistance is minimal, you are said to have an “open” ANS configuration. If your muscles stay strong, however, you are said to be blocked.
Treatment can proceed for patients with open autonomic nervous systems. Physicians put pressure on scar tissues and then observe whether patients' muscles go weak. If they do, then it indicates sites suitable for injection.
While this method might sound a little strange, it is the most accurate developed so far. Neural therapy is more successful after ART than other interference field identification techniques.
Abnormal interference fields can cause a variety of conditions since the ANS links to every part of the body.
For instance, chronic musculoskeletal pain often relates to the presence of interference fields caused by a lack of blood flow to the affected region. Smooth blood vessel cell walls should open up to provide increased oxygenation and nutrient deposition to affected tissues. However, if that doesn’t happen, tissues can remain cut off, causing pain. Over time, lack of oxygen flow may lead to disability or disease. Necrotic tissues can sometimes develop in extreme cases, requiring surgery.
Fortunately, effective neural therapy can address the root cause of many ANS-related conditions. The treatment may be able to improve or cure: