Prolotherapy, which is short for “proliferative therapy,” is an injection technique where natural solutions (from a simple dextrose solution to more complex stem cells) are delivered to the injury site to restart and maximize the body’s own healing process This healing technique is applied to unstable and injured joints, ligaments, and tendons to encourage the restoration of normal, healthy tissue. As such, prolotherapy can help people avoid surgery.
Where and how does prolotherapy work?
The amount of clinical research on prolotherapy has increased substantially over the last several years. Multiple studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating neck pain and instability; low back pain; sacroiliac dysfunction; chronic groin pain; osteoarthritis of the knee and hand; tennis elbow (lateral epicondylosis); knee tendon, ligament and meniscus injuries; and Achilles tendon injury. In everyday clinical practice, prolotherapy is used to treat painful conditions in virtually every major area of the body with excellent results. The healing response itself is triggered when the prolotherapy solution causes the injured tissue to release specific growth factors that attract tissue-healing cells to the injury site.
Who can benefit from prolotherapy?
Good candidates for prolotherapy include people who have joint or muscle pain. Prolotherapy works synergistically with treatments such as physical therapy, manual adjustments, massage therapy, and other treatments. The root causes of the pain can be wide-ranging, including osteoarthritis, sports injuries, post-surgical complications, ligament laxity from hypermobility, and direct trauma caused by an event such as a fall or car accident.
What is a prolotherapy treatment like?
After answering any questions, the doctor will examine the area to be treated via ultrasound or fluoroscopy (x-ray) and may note a few anatomical “landmarks” on the skin surface with a pen. The treatment area is then thoroughly cleansed and sterilized, so treatment can begin. Although prolotherapy involves injections, sometimes to multiple areas, it is generally very well tolerated. Because the areas of the body that are being treated are already injured and sensitive, the injections typically cause some temporary pain and discomfort. Our highly trained doctors take several measures to minimize this discomfort, such as using the smallest and thinnest needles possible, prescribing medications to reduce pain, and sometimes recommending anesthetic creams which numb the skin before the procedure. Since the body’s natural healing response can be a slow process, it may take two to four weeks before patients notice significant improvement. The results, however, are often long-lasting and may even be permanent in some cases.
What is the bottom line?
As with any other medical treatment, prolotherapy does not work in all cases. But it can provide long-term pain relief in situations where multiple other therapies have been unsuccessful. When performed as part of a comprehensive treatment strategy that maximizes your healing potential by improving your overall health, prolotherapy can be the catalyst that helps to bring you out of pain and back into the game of life.