Prolotherapy is an important part of regenerative medicine. It is used therapeutically in sports medicine, orthopedics, arthritis treatment and general practice. Like biologic allograft and platelet-rich plasma injections, prolotherapy harnesses the ability of the body to heal and repair itself.
What is Prolotherapy?
Prolotherapy, also called proliferation therapy, is an injectable treatment for worn, aged, deteriorated or injured joints, ligaments and tendons. When the protective tissue surrounding these parts of the anatomy weakens or deteriorates, or when it is torn or injured, you may be in pain and you may experience reduced use of that part of your body.
Prolotherapy may be the right way to alleviate:
- Sports injuries
- Joint pain
- Chronic pain
- Back pain
- Knee pain
- Shoulder pain
- Neck pain
- Hip pain
- Elbow pain
- Ankle pain
- Wrist pain
- Finger pain
Prolotherapy works by causing inflammation. When you think about it, inflammation is actually a healing response. It is your body working to repair an abnormality or trauma. When this happens, the area is flooded with growth hormones, platelets and other cells sent to heal and shore up the injured tissue.
Here’s how it works: Prolotherapy refers to injections. The solution injected intentionally causes irritation and inflammation in the target area; this is quite different from corticosteroid injections, which block inflammation. The most commonly used irritant is dextrose (sugar). A saltwater solution may also be used.
When injected into a specific joint, tendon or ligament, the solution causes irritation that attracts and proliferates healing platelets and growth factors in the area. In this way, the injections are prompting your body to focus more healing and repair efforts in the arthritic, damaged or injured part of your body.
The inflammation activates cells called “fibroblasts,” which build collagen and other supportive tissue. The fibroblasts will begin to proliferate the amount of collagen in the treatment area, which will reinforce the weakened or injured tissue. Fibroblasts are an important part of wound healing, and prolotherapy stimulates their reparative work.
Your Prolotherapy Appointment
Prolotherapy is administered directly into the area of pain or injury with injections. Lidocaine is typically used to numb the area prior to injection. The injection appointment takes about 30 minutes to an hour.
You will need a series of prolotherapy treatment sessions. The number depends on what is being treated and the specific area of your body. These sessions are spaced out over the course of several weeks.
The injection site will be sore and red for a few days. Complete aftercare instructions are provided, including how often to ice the area to keep swelling down. We ask you to avoid anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen – they will only block the inflammatory response desired.
What is the Success Rate of Prolotherapy?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that prolotherapy is highly effective in:
- Reducing pain
- Increasing the strength and stability of the treated area
- Improving the function and range of motion of the treated area
There have also been large-scale studies and clinical trials showing that prolotherapy has reliably positive effects for a wide range of chronic pain and joint conditions.
How Long Does it Take for Prolotherapy to Work?
You may begin feeling positive effects within 6-8 weeks. It takes time for growth factors to proliferate in the area, and for new collagen to form. The effects are not permanent, but touch-up injections can be administered.
Learn More about Prolotherapy
The only way to know if this treatment option may be right for you is to visit the practitioner for an assessment and consultation. Your symptoms, current health conditions, other treatments and your expectations will all be discussed.