Prolotherapy, or proliferation therapy, is an injection-based treatment used for chronic musculoskeletal conditions. It is a non-surgical, regenerative, alternative treatment option that stimulates the body’s natural healing process to strengthen and repair injured and painful joints and connective tissue.
How Does It Work?
The prolotherapy injection consists of a natural irritant, such as a dextrose solution, which is injected into the affected joint. Once activated, the body’s healing response kicks in and begins to strengthen and repair the damaged ligaments. Essentially, it tells the body to give more support to the affected joint. Without proper support, joints can be painful and easily injured. Once the joint is better supported, the pain will start to fade.
The affected joint requires several shots of prolotherapy in order for the treatment to be effective. This can consist of 4 to 15 shots per session, with several sessions occurring over 3 to 6 months. Once completed, the pain relief that this treatment provides is permanent, relying on the body’s self-healing process. In addition, the increased stability of the joint improves the overall movement and function of the back and other joints.
What Can It Treat?
Prolotherapy can be used to treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including:
- Foot & ankle problems
- Knee pain (including MCL, LCL, and ACL sprains)
- Baker’s Cysts
- Pelvic tilt & Functional Leg Discrepancy
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Sciatica and Pyriformis Syndrome
- Sacroiliac joint disorders
- Herniated discs
- Back pain
- Tennis/Golfer’s elbow
- Shoulder pain
- Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
- Biceps Tendonitis
- Post-Concussion Syndrome
- Compression fractures
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- TMJ / Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
- Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)
How Does Prolotherapy Compare To Other Treatments?
Pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications provide only temporary relief. On the other hand, surgery does not always work to stabilize a joint fully and poses the risk of causing more damage. There are several studies that describe the outcomes of prolotherapy, showing its success in treating osteoarthritic thumbs and fingers as well as osteoarthritic knees.
The success rates for prolotherapy are high and consistent, according to a meta-analysis. About 85% to 95% of patients with low back pain experienced a significant reduction in pain and improvement in range of motion and quality of life following the treatment. These results last a lifetime and future treatments are almost never needed. This compares poorly to patients who underwent invasive back surgery, about 52% of which saw improvement.
What To Expect
If you considering Prolotherapy for your musculoskeletal pain, bring it up with your doctor. They will discuss with you whether or not you are a good candidate for this treatment option. If you have a chronic condition, you may not be suitable for this treatment; your doctor may recommend an alternative that would be more likely to relieve your pain in the long-term. Before considering if this treatment is right for you, your doctor will take scans of your joint or back to determine the location and severity of the injury.
Once you and your doctor have decided on this treatment, they will instruct you to stop anti-inflammatory medications at least 2-3 days before treatment. Continuing to take these types of medications can prevent the therapy from working. On the day of your treatment, you should eat a large protein-filled meal. The treatment begins like any other shot – the doctor sterilizes the area with rubbing alcohol. They will then apply a numbing cream to the area; the needle used for Prolotherapy goes deeper into the body than that of a vaccine and may cause some pain. If you are extremely sensitive to pain and discomfort, sedation may be used. The doctor will administer several shots of the irritant to several different points around the joint or back, depending on the area or joint affected.
Risks & Side Effects
Out of all documented cases of Prolotherapy, the worst side effect is an infection at the site of injection. This generally presents with fever and pain but can be easily treated with antibiotics. Directly after the injection, the area may feel worse than it did in the first place, but this is normal. Over time, the pain and swelling will fade.
If you have a subacute musculoskeletal condition or injury and are considering Prolotherapy, call Greenberg Regenerative Medicine today at (833) 440-4325 or schedule a consultation online!