What is it?
Mesotherapy was originally developed in 1952 in France by Dr. Michel Pistor. It was adapted for horses by Dr. Jean Marie Denoix who introduced it to the veterinary world in 2002. So what is it? Mesotherapy is the injection of very small amounts of sterile medication directly into the dermal (skin) layer using a very short 3-4 mm needle (or array of needles). The medications used can vary, but often include small doses of local anesthetic (such as lidocaine or carbocaine), vitamins (such as vitamin B12), homeopathic or pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxants. (The pink stuff you may see is the vitamin B12!)
How does it work and why is it helpful?
Mesotherapy is argued to work in two ways. One is by the delivery of very small amounts of medicine into specific locations where they can slowly diffuse into the local blood circulation. This technique can provide medicine right at a problem area and allow that medicine to persist over time without being broken down by the detoxification processes of the body. It can also allow the use of very small doses of medication that may not be tolerated systematically at full dose. The second way that mesotherapy is thought to work is by interfering with pain signals. The gate theory of pain control postulates that benign sensory stimulation at the skin (which is rich in nerve fibers, many of which are not involved in pain signaling) can interfere with or block the transmission of pain signals to the brain. We do see almost immediate pain relief with most of our chronic pain patients.
Who can benefit from it?
Mesotherapy is very useful for patients with chronic pain. At All Creatures, mesotherapy is commonly used for patients who are no longer responding to other modalities for pain control or for whom pain has become quite strong. Research has shown the benefits of mesotherapy for chronic hip and spinal pain. Mesotherapy is also sometimes used to help localize pain in stoic patients who aren’t providing many indications to show where they are painful. This is because the tiny injections often sting when first administered, but only over areas of chronic pain.
What should I expect?
The initial treatment requieres a 30 minute treatment appointment. To have lasting effect, treatments must be done weekly for 4 weeks, at which point the treatments are gradually spaced out to every 4-6 weeks. During this initial series of weekly treatments, recheck appointments are 15 minutes, but long term the 30 minute appointments are better suited for the ups and downs of these chronic conditions. Often mesotherapy is combined with chiropractic and/or acupuncture. If mesotherapy is going to be effective, a rapid response is usually seen. Often patients are immediately brighter or more relaxed. After the first treatment, the effects tend to last about a day, but as treatments continue the effects become more long-lasting. Be aware that mesotherapy can really sting, almost like a little bee sting, which is one of the reasons we tend to reserve it for more severe conditions. However, the pain relief starts just 30-60 seconds after the injection, and many patients seem to realize it’s “good pain” and are happy to come back!