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What Is Prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy is a treatment that uses an injection of an irritant solution into ligaments or tendon insertion in an effort to relieve pain.

What Conditions Can Benefit From Prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy can be a highly effective treatment for Musculoskeletal Pain and may help the following conditions:

Athletic Injuries: ligament and tendon injuries, sprains, strains or tears

Overuse Injuries: tennis elbow, golfers elbow, shoulder tendonitis, achilles tendonitis

Arthritis Pain: knees, back, neck, shoulders, hip, hands, wrists, feet

Weak, loose and unstable joints: hypermobility, subluxations, nerve impingement  

How Does Prolotherapy Work?

Injection of the prolotherapy solution into the injured area creates a mild controlled inflammatory response, which in turn recruits the body’s natural repair mechanisms and starts a healing cascade. The growth and regeneration of new ligaments and tendons are initiated. Any further and subsequent treatments will repeat this proliferative process, and therefore restoring strength and function. 

What Is The Solution That Is Injected?

The most commonly used solution is a mixture of dextrose and an anesthetic agent such as procaine or lidocaine diluted with normal saline.

Is Prolotherapy Safe?

It is safe when performed by a certified and trained prolotherapist, who has in-depth knowledge of anatomy. The use of needles involves risks, that are no different from those of conventional injections, but generally, complications are rare. 

Do The Injections Hurt?

The use of needles is always accompanied by some degree of discomfort, but it is usually well tolerated by most patients. It is helpful to stay relaxed by not tensing the muscles and by focusing on deep breathing. A local anesthetic such as procaine or lidocaine can be used to numb the skin and reduce discomfort. 

Can Prolotherapy Cure Everything?

It certainly cannot “cure” every painful condition, nor is it guaranteed to always eliminate painfully. Majority of patients receiving prolotherapy report up to 80% resolution of pain and some complete resolution. These results are excellent, considering that chronic pain is exceedingly difficult to treat by any means. The important thing to keep in mind is this treatment only strengthens tissues. No structures are weakened and no scars are formed. 

When Will The Benefits Occur After The Injection?

Usually, it does not result in immediate relief of pain. Some patients report improvement in as little as 2 to 3 weeks following an injection, but it is not expected to see any significant improvement until 4 to 6 weeks after the first treatment. As ligaments strengthen and joint stability improve, results become more noticeable with reduced pain and improved function. 

How Many Treatments Are Needed?

Three to six treatments for a given area is about the average needed. A few patients respond quickly to just one or two treatments, but most patients require more to stimulate growth and repair. Generally, the longer the duration of the pain and disability and the more severe the widespread it is, the more treatments will be needed to stabilize the joints, ligaments or tendons. After the first session, successive treatments follow at intervals of 4 to 6 weeks. 

What Can I Take For The Pain During Recovery?

Typically, some stiffness and soreness are expected post-injection and it is actually necessary for the healing process to begin. This will only last for 3 to 4 days. Using heat can soothe the discomfort but using ice can actually slow the healing process. No anti-inflammatory medications should be used because this will actually interfere with the healing process as well. Tylenol may be used for a short period of time. Remember, it is important to treat the source of the pain by strengthening the damaged area rather than using pain medication chronically. 

Should I Exercise Following Treatments?

CONTROLLED exercise and mobilization of the treated area promote tissue healing. Movement and exercise are recommended as soon as possible, but the amount will depend on one’s level of fitness as well as how many areas were treated. Massage and other similar treatments are compatible with treatment. In most cases, depending on one’s job, the patient may return to work or school the same day as the treatment. 

How Effective Is Prolotherapy?

The rate of success depends on multiple factors, including the patient’s other medical conditions, nutritional status, age, and their ability to heal. 

How Is Prolotherapy Different From Steroid Injections?

Steroid injections produce temporary relief of pain and inhibit inflammation (The body’s natural healing mechanism). In the long run, steroids tend to cause more tissue degeneration and multiple adverse effects. However Prolotherapy does just the opposite with minimal side effects.

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