Delayed Healing

Volume: 3
Issue: 12
December 15, 2008
Delayed Healing

Dear Colleagues:
A recent newspaper report on “nanoscaffolding” for regrowth of severed limbs or other tissue caught my eye. The headline read: “U.S. military can regrow human limbs, organs”

According to the newspaper description, the nanoscaffolding was made of tiny polymer fibers on which human cells grew, like vines on a trellis. The technology has already succeeded in re-growing severed fingertips and skin over third degree burns. 
Exciting stuff!  This topic brought back to my memory Becker and Selden’s classic book “The Body Electric” published in 1985.  The book makes available to laymen Becker’s 30 years of research into the effects of electricity and magnetism on biological growth and repair.   Becker was fascinated by the salamander’s ability to re-grow severed limbs and discovered that electrical currents are a vital part of the repair process in not only reptiles, but also in mammals. Also electrical forces were found to be critical to directing growth in the normal process of physical maturation.  Becker applied this knowledge to solve the ancient problem of fracture non-union.  By applying minute  currents through the fracture site, bone growth was stimulated and fractures healed.  This technique has since become standard orthopaedic treatment throughout the world.

I can find no mention in Becker’s book of the effect of procaine on delayed or non-union of fractures. Yet as far back as 1928, Leriche, one of the great scientist-clinicians of the early 1900’s, recommended procaine injections into the fracture site to improve circulation and callus formation in cases of delayed union.  Dosch recommends its use even in fresh fractures to facilitate healing, on the basis of results from animal research.  As far as I know, the neural therapy pioneers had only the vaguest of ideas of how procaine could affect the physiology of wound healing.  They knew that procaine restores cell membrane electrical potentials and improves circulation, but they do not seem to have studied its effect on “current of injury”, a phenomenon discovered in the early 1800’s and later recognized by Becker as a key to understanding wound healing. 
As clinicians I suppose we don’t need to know exactly how things work before applying them to the problems we face.  Neural therapy is ultimately an empirical art.  A case I saw in my practice demonstrates this.

An otherwise healthy 52 year old woman slipped on ice-covered stairs and fell, landing on her shoulder.  She sustained a sub-capital humeral fracture and was treated with a sling.  Four weeks after the injury she was still in considerable pain and a repeat Xray showed no sign of healing.

It was at this point she presented in my office.  The fracture site was tender to palpation, warm and slightly swollen.  Autonomic response testing revealed an interference field at the fracture site.  I elected to treat the interference field with the Tenscam device, rather than the usual subcutaneous blebs of dilute procaine recommended in classical neural therapy.  The response was immediate – a significant reduction in pain.  The pain relief proved to be lasting and a repeat Xray taken a week later showed new callus formation.  The fracture continued to heal in a normal way without further treatment.

Neural therapy can be used in delayed healing not only of fractures, but also of any wound.  Persisting pain and swelling of sprains respond quickly to treatment (See Volume 1, No. 9 of, as do skin ulcers or lacerations.

On a slightly different topic, the suggestion has been made that fresh surgical wounds should be irrigated with dilute procaine to improve healing and to prevent infection.  A controlled study mentioned by Dosch (p. 241 of the more recent textbook, p. 299 of the old one) showed reduced post-operative pain with administration of procaine at the time of surgery.  This is of course not the same thing as preventing infection.  I could find nothing in the English literature (using a Pubmed search) to support the idea, and in fact I found one 1980 study showing delayed initial healing when a fresh wound was infiltrated with 2% procaine.  Perhaps our Russian and/or German speaking readers could help us out in this area!

Personally, I am loathe to interfere with nature’s good work, unless the natural process of healing seems to be interrupted or delayed.  Just as anti-inflammatory medications do not make sense to me in acute illness or injury, (when inflammation is doing its intended job), I feel that procaine should be reserved for those instances when nature is not doing its proper work.  Procaine (as also the Tenscam) regulates the body’s neurological control mechanisms.  It works with nature; it does not replace it.

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