Dr. Tortland is pleased to offer Prolozone® treatment as part of his practice of treating painful musculoskeletal conditions. In fact, he is the only physician in New England offering this exciting therapy.
Benefits of Ozone Therapy
In a nutshell, ozone helps stimulate the body’s natural healing and repair mechanisms and helps enhance and balance the body’s natural anti-aging and disease-fighting processes. When you boil it down, ozone therapy is best described as a low potency homeopathic treatment that stimulates and stabilizes biological functions. Thousands of scientific articles have been published on both the safety and clinical usefulness of ozone.
Conditions That Can Be Treated With Prolozone®
Prolozone® works on just about any pain problem you might have, including:
Neck pain, whiplash, degenerated or herniated discs, low back pain, plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, torn tendons, TMJ syndrome, sciatica, heel spurs, neuromas, tennis elbow, rotator cuff tears, knee injuries, and virtually any other sports injury.
Because Prolozone® treatments also stimulate cartilage regeneration, the technique is also remarkably effective even for severe cases of osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, esp. when combined with PRP or stem cell injections.
What Is Ozone?
Ozone is a naturally occurring compound made up of three oxygen atoms, commonly notated as O3. (This compares to the vastly more common form of oxygen, O2.) The majority of natural ozone is both made and found in the earth’s atmosphere. It has a distinctive pungent smell, most noted after a thunderstorm or when a copy machine makes a copy.
Ozone is made when an electrical current, such as lightning, passes through oxygen, O2. The electrical charge breaks apart the two oxygen atoms. Most of the oxygen atoms immediately reunite to reform O2. But a very small percentage of the single oxygen molecules combine to form a trio, O3. The ozone molecule is highly unstable and breaks down quickly to O2. But it is precisely this instability that makes ozone so powerful from a healing perspective.
How Is Ozone Given Medically?
First, medical ozone is created right in our office from pure medical grade oxygen using a special ozone generator. Standard room air cannot be used. This is because room air is 80% nitrogen, and when exposed to an electrical charge it converts to nitrous oxide and nitric oxide, both of which are potentially toxic.
Even then, pure ozone is never created. This is because of the inherent instability of ozone. So the “ozone” gas that is used medically is actually only 2% ozone and 98% oxygen. But that small amount of ozone is enough to have profound medical benefits.
Once the O2/O3 gas mixture is prepared it can be administered in a number ways. In our practice the vast majority of ozone is given by direct injection into joints and soft tissue. But ozone can also be given by inhalation, rectal insufflation, orally (by drinking ozonated water), topically through ozonated olive oil, and intravenously by mixing it with your own blood and re-infusing it.
But we almost never inject the ozone by itself.
In some cases the ozone is given in combination with prolotherapy, PRP, or stem cell injections. In other cases, namely Prolozone®, first a small injection of a mixture of Novocain®, vitamins, and other healing agents is given to help enhance the healing environment. This is followed immediately by the ozone injection. (The term Prolozone® was coined by Frank Shallenberger, MD to describe his unique procedure of giving ozone in combination with specific vitamins and homeopathic substances by injection into joints and soft tissues.)
In addition, ozone treatment is often combined with other adjunctive treatments, including hormone optimization, weight loss and correcting nutritional deficiencies, stress management, and addressing biomechanical problems with the use of orthotics or braces.
What Does Ozone Therapy Cost?
Charges for ozone therapy in our office vary according to the nature of the treatment and the structure(s) being injected. Costs range from $250-$450 per treatment.
Is Ozone Therapy or Prolozone® Covered By Insurance?
How Does Ozone Work?
In order to understand how ozone works, we first need to understand what goes wrong in the body that leads to poor healing, degeneration, and disease.
Underlying most, if not all degeneration, poor healing, and disease is altered oxygen utilization in the body. Oxygen is essential for life. (Compare not eating or drinking for 10 minutes vs. not breathing for 10 minutes!) But the body needs to be able to use oxygen efficiently in order to work effectively. The amount of air we breathe is less important than our ability to use that oxygen. “Oxygen utilization” refers to the efficiency with which the cells can convert the energy in an oxygen molecule to energy that the body can use for physiological activity. When oxygen utilization deteriorates, ALL body functions deteriorate, harmful free radicals accumulate, and the body’s anti-oxidant buffering capacity diminishes.
Decreased oxygen utilization can be systemic, where the entire body is suffering from its effect, or local, such as around a sprained ankle, inside an arthritic knee, or surrounding a chronic rotator cuff injury.
To the surprise of many, it’s not the ozone itself that exerts the healing effect. Upon injection or administration the ozone is immediately taken up by the tissue. The ozone then binds with amino acids and lipids to form compounds called “peroxides.” These peroxides (not to be confused with hydrogen peroxide) are collectively known as “ozonides.” It is these ozonides that increase tissue oxygen utilization and also help increase the synthesis of the body’s anti-oxidant buffering enzymes.
In other words, ozone therapy helps treat the root cause of injury and disease biochemically, not just treat the symptoms.
Is Ozone Therapy Safe?
Almost invariably, the first reaction of most people when introduced to ozone therapy is, “That’s a toxin! Why do you want to give it?”
Ozone is demonized as contributing to a host of bad things, including lung disease, believed (incorrectly) to be a major component of smog pollution, and thought to contribute to environmental damage. How can it possibly be helpful for the body?
Reality is far from perception, however!
While ozone IS a component of air pollution, it is actually a very small part. (Remember that ozone is naturally occurring substance.) By far the biggest pollution offenders are harmful hydrocarbons, peroxidized hydrocarbons, and nitrates. But ozone suffers guilt by association because, of all these nasty chemicals, it’s not that ozone is the most noxious or irritating factor, but simply because it’s the easiest and cheapest to measure – that’s it!
As mentioned at the very beginning, ozone therapy is incredibly safe. In a 1986 article, of 5,579,238 treatments utilizing major autohemolytic ozone therapy (MAH, a process where a small amount of a patient’s blood is removed, mixed with ozone, and then re-infused) there were only 4 deaths. And each of those deaths involved direct intravenous O3 administration, a rare and dangerous use of ozone. There have been NO documented deaths or serious adverse outcomes from ozone properly given by injection, inhalation, rectally, or topically.
Compare ozone therapy to many conventional medical treatments. Ozone therapy:
- Is safer than most of the mainstream medical treatments given for similar conditions;
- Does have scientific evidence of effectiveness;
- Is extremely cost effective.
Many mainstream medical treatments, on the other hand, have LOTS of potential side effects, work marginally or only for a small percentage of patients, and can be VERY expensive, especially if you have to be on certain medications for many years.
For example, consider the use of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen (Advil® and Motrin®), naproxen sodium (Aleve®), Mobic®, and diclofenac (Voltaren®). In one study 80% of all ulcer-related deaths in the U.S. occurred in patients who were using an NSAID. At any given time, a patient on NSAID therapy has a 5- to 10-times greater risk than non-users of developing a gastric ulcer. One large epidemiological study estimated that the death rate for NSAID-associated gastrointestinal problems was 0.04% per year among patients taking NSAIDs specifically for osteoarthritis and related conditions. This extrapolates to 3,200 deaths in the U.S. per year for patients with osteoarthritis alone.
So would you rather take an NSAID for your knee arthritis or try ozone treatment?
If Ozone Is So Great, Why Isn’t Everyone Using It?
Great question. But let’s flip it around – If a mainstream medical treatment has lots of side effects, while treating only symptoms and not the cause of the problem, why is anyone using it?
The simple answer is, Follow the money!
Any effective alternative therapy would be mainstream – if it was highly profitable. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not going to demonize the pharmaceutical industry. Many people owe their very lives to some of the tremendous advances made by the pharmaceutical industry. But they ARE for-profit corporations. And it’s not so much physicians who determine what’s mainstream as it is the medical industrial complex.
Also consider that up to 40% for the FDA’s total funding comes from the pharmaceutical industry. Several years ago the FDA was seeking an additional $821 million in funding. Of that amount, 94 percent, or $770 million, would come from user fees paid by the drug industry. While some of the FDA is funded by taxpayers, most of their budget comes from such user fees, which are paid by the drug companies to hasten the review and approval of their products.
Furthermore, according to an article written by Donald W. Light of the School of Public Health, University of Medicine & Dentistry of NJ, 90% of the new drugs approved by the FDA in the last 30 years are no more effective than existing (and far cheaper) drugs. But generic drugs don’t generate profits . . .
Also, doctors are interesting creatures. The exact mechanisms by which ozone works are still largely not clearly defined. As Dr. Shallenberger points out in his book, Principles and Applications of Ozone Therapy, “most western medical doctors are much more interested in a dangerous, less effective therapy with known mechanisms than a safer, potentially more effective therapy with known mechanisms.” In other words, most physicians feel more comfortable using treatments that they understand – even if those treatments are minimally effective or even dangerous – than they are in using or endorsing treatments they understand less, even if such treatments are effective and safe.
(To be fair, in my opinion, a lot of this has to do with our training as physicians. Medical students, interns, and residents are strongly discouraged from “thinking outside the box,” and sometimes they are even punished or ostracized for doing so. Most physicians do what they do simply because that’s how they were trained, and they fear veering outside the lines of what their colleagues are similarly doing. Most physicians basically take the path of least resistance in this context.)
Bottom line: Is it any wonder that effective and safe alternative therapies fail to be taught in medical schools and residencies?