Prolotherapy is a treatment that involves injections of a solution into trigger point areas to help with pain. Prolotherapy is short for “proliferation therapy,” and it’s sometimes also called regenerative injection therapy, or “non-surgical ligament and tendon reconstruction and regenerative joint injection.” Variations of prolotherapy have been in use in the United States since 1930.
How Does Prolotherapy Work?
If you think about your ligaments and tendons — the tissue that connect joints and muscles — through use, or injury, they can become stretched out or even torn. This destabilizes the joint, causing inflammation and pain.
In prolotherapy, an injection is made into the area near a joint, ligament, or tendon, and the irritation of the injection area causes new collagen production, which helps stabilize the joint and regenerate the site. This helps resolve pain and stimulate permanent healing in many patients.
Prolotherapy is considered most useful for
- Lower back pain and disc problems
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Wrist pain
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
- Achilles tendinitis
- Tennis or golfer’s elbow
- Joint dislocation
- Mouse shoulder, frozen shoulder and other shoulder pain
- Temporal Mandibular Joint (TMJ) dysfunctions in the jaw area
- Lateral epicondylosis
- Other joint, muscle and tendon painTypically, a dextrose (sugar) solution, saline (salt) solution, the anesthetic lidocane, or glycerine are used for the injections.Effective prolotherapy typically involves periodic treatments — from weekly to every six weeks, depending on the condition — for a total of 3 to 6 treatments.
The American Association of Orthopaedic Medicine endorses the use of prolotherapy for management of musculoskeletal pain problems, as does the American Osteopathic Association of Prolotherapy Regenerative Medicine.
Benefits of Prolotherapy
In contrast to surgery, or pain medications, prolotherapy is considered very safe, minimally invasive, and has few side effects. You may have a bit of soreness or stiffness at the injection site within a few days of treatment, and that usually goes away.
Prolotherapy also gets at the underlying cause of the pain, and for some patients, and unlike medication and some surgeries, it permanently eliminates the ongoing problem, rather than just treating the symptoms.
(Note: If you are on an anticoagulant, or have a bleeding disorder, however, you may not be a good candidate for prolotherapy. )
What Can You Expect?
Prolotherapy is not a time-consuming process. Once your treatment plan has been established, you can be in and out of your prolotherapy in less than an hour, and back to your day’s activities right away.
You may experience noticeable pain relief as early as after your first session. Typically, people report continued improvement with each session. According to some studies, more than 80% of people treated with prolotherapy report good or excellent results in their pain management.