Using Sugar Water for Chronic Pain
Most people with chronic pain have tried multiple modalities to help relieve it. What if the answer could be as simple as sugar water? Two techniques using a diluted solution of dextrose (sugar), have been around for about 15 years, and more studies are showing positive results.
The first technique is called Perineural Injection Therapy, or PIT. This involves several micro-injections of the dextrose solution around the superficial nerves in the area you have pain. For example, there are many different nerve bundles that go into the knee, and depending on where on the knee the pain is located, a simple injection of dextrose of the specific nerve fibers involved can decrease that pain. If the pain is on the inner (medial) part of the knee, the pain could be due to the obturator nerve. Pain within the knee joint itself is usually branches of the genicular nerves. This technique can be used on most other joints, including the shoulders, elbows, ankles, and hips. Unlike steroid injections, which go into the joint itself, these injections go into the skin surrounding the joint.
The other technique is called the Sphenopalantine Ganglion (SPG) block, or “Sweet Nasal”. This involves applying the dextrose solution onto the SPG, which lives right at the base of your brain, deep inside the nose. The SPG is a large group of nerves, which feeds into nerve branches that go into the face, brain, jaw, neck, and back. The unique feature of this ganglion, or bundle, or nerves is that it is the largest grouping of nerves in the head outside of the brain, and that it is easily accessible without a needle or a scalpel. To get the dextrose solution on the SPG, all you would need to do is lay on your back, tilt your nose to the sky, and we would drip the solution into your nose, then you’d lay still for about five minutes to let the solution soak into the ganglion. This technique is especially helpful for pain associated with the nerves of the face (trigeminal neuralgia), brain (migraines), jaw (chronic pain after dental procedures), neck and back. Additionally, there is growing anecdotal evidence showing benefit with SPG treatments for “all-over” pain disorders, such as fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome, and diabetic neuropathy.
So how does sugar water help pain? The answer isn’t entirely clear, but there is a theory that has been shown in studies to be very likely. The thought is, that when nerves are firing, or causing you pain, they are telling you that something is wrong. At the site of injury or inflammation, the area becomes acidic and starved for glucose (sugar). If the issues cannot be corrected quickly, as is the case in arthritis, where the likely end result is a joint replacement, the nerve continuously send the signal that something is wrong, that it is starved for sugar. Applying the diluted sugar solution onto that starved nerve can help the nerve to realize that the injury has subsided, and it suppresses the nerve’s need to tell you something is wrong. The solution is concentrated enough to “feed” the nerve, but is diluted enough to prevent an increase in overall blood sugar.
The technique of using sugar water for chronic pain has been gaining popularity all over the world. PIT and SPG blocks are both extremely safe procedures, with minimal side effects (infection or bruising at the injection site). Sometimes treating pain is as easy as feeding it something sweet.
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“Lyftogt Perineural Injection Treatment™ (LPIT) – Neurofascial Prolotherapy.” Caring Medical Regenerative Medicine Clinics, Barry Weiner,
Sanders, Michael, and Wouter W. A. Zuurmond. “Efficacy of Sphenopalatine Ganglion Blockade in 66 Patients Suffering from Cluster Headache: a 12- to 70-Month Follow-up Evaluation in: Journal of Neurosurgery Volume 87 Issue 6 Year 1997.” JNS | Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 30 Oct. 2018, thejns.org/view/journals/j-neurosurg/87/6/article-p876.xml.
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