Prolotherapy is a form of regenerative medicine that employs a proliferative solution (typically dextrose) by injecting it into the problematic area. These solutions stimulate the immune system to engage in the repair of the tissues, functionally ‘jumpstarting’ the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
Ultimately, prolotherapy aims to encourage new tissue growth and eliminate pain as an alternative to surgery. Unlike steroids or other injections that reduce inflammation, prolotherapy temporarily increases inflammation to stimulate repair. Whether prolotherapy is effective depends on a few different factors.
Prolotherapy for treating pain
While research is ongoing to determine the utility of prolotherapy, existing academic studies presented by the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine and Cochrane Library report that prolotherapy injections are an effective treatment for reducing chronic lower back pain, osteoarthritis, and other pain from musculoskeletal conditions.
Patients report decreased pain and improved range of motion from prolotherapy alone, and with further improvements when combined with other therapies such as exercise, physiotherapy, spinal manipulation, and acupuncture.
Prolotherapy for acute injuries
A study conducted by the Journal of International Musculoskeletal Medicine details the successful repair of a complete anterior cruciate tear using prolotherapy with at-home exercises.
Patients with acute ligament injuries show a more rapid rate of recovery, as well as improvements in stability and performance within 4-6 weeks of injection therapy.
Prolotherapy for chronic conditions
The positive impact of prolotherapy on chronic conditions is well-documented with proper academic studies. Below are just a few examples:
- Research has shown that dextrose prolotherapy is effective in the treatment of tendinopathies, knee and fingers joint OA, and spinal/pelvic pain resulting from ligament dysfunction.
- When other standard treatments have proved ineffective, this study shows prolotherapy as a successful option for treating painful musculoskeletal conditions.
- According to Sage Journals, patients who suffer from chronic, recalcitrant coccygodynia have benefited from dextrose prolotherapy.
- A study reported by Science Direct details long-term pain improvement for patients with painful rotator cuff tendinopathy after dextrose prolotherapy injections.
Is Prolotherapy right for you?
Prolotherapy is an alternative treatment option that has been available since the 1950s. The effectiveness of prolotherapy depends on the patient’s condition, the extent of the pain, medical history, and type and/or severity of the injury sustained.
In all cases, each patient is assessed on an individual basis. Injection treatments can be added to a comprehensive plan that may include exercise or other physical therapy methods.
A consultation with a qualified doctor who specializes in prolotherapy in Calgary can help determine whether this treatment is the right solution for you.