What is prolotherapy?

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“Time is not a cure for chronic pain, but it can be crucial for improvement. It takes time to change, to recover, and to make progress.”
— Dr. Mel Pohl

Muskuloskeletal conditions are the most common source of chronic pain, and joints in our extremities are all too often the issue. The increasing prevalence of muskuloskeletal conditions has led to an interest in nonsurgical solutions. Prolotherapy is one of these, and has the benefit of having lower risk and a shorter recovery time than what’s needed with surgery.

First, what is prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy involves injecting a dextrose solution into an attachment site of a ligament or tendon. The solution is a mild irritant that causes inflammation at the injection site. This increases blood flow to the area, which allows for an influx of nutrients to the site and stimulates tissue repair. Ligaments and tendons tend to have poor blood supply, so this process stimulates the body to repair damaged tissue. The final result is strengthened tissue and decreased pain!

What can prolotherapy treat?

It’s always best to ask your health practitioner if you’re a good candidate for prolotherapy. Prolotherapy shouldn’t be the first treatment you jump to when treating different muskuloskeletal conditions, but it’s a great option for those who are feeling they have plateaued with their current treatment. Prolotherapy can help treat pain in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles (depending on what is causing the pain in these areas).

Specific conditions that prolotherapy can help are:

  • Osteoarthritis in the knees

  • Osteoarthritis in the fingers

  • Unresolved sports injuries that include ligament damage

  • Tennis elbow

  • Golfer’s elbow

  • Chronic tendon issues

How many treatments are needed?

A patient’s response to the treatment varies in each case. The average number of treatments is 4 to 6 with treatments spaced out about a month apart.

 

References:

Jahangiri A., Moghaddam F.R., Najafi S.(2014) Hypertonic dextrose versus corticosteroid local injection for the treatment of osteoarthritis in the first carpometacarpal joint: a double-blind randomized clinical trial. Journal of Orthopaedic Science, 19 (5) , pp. 737-743.

Rabago, et al. (2013) Dextrose prolotherapy for knee osteoarthritis: a randomized control trial. Ann Fam Med, 11(3): 229-237.

Scarpone, M., Rabago, D. P., Zgierska, A., Arbogast, G., & Snell, E. (2008). The efficacy of prolotherapy for lateral epicondylosis: a pilot study. Clinical journal of sport medicine : official journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine, 18(3), 248–254. doi:10.1097/JSM.0b013e318170fc87