Prolotherapy is a method of strengthening weakened, stretched and partially torn ligaments and tendons, thereby enhancing the support systems of our bones and muscles. As a consequence of injury or just wear and tear, these connective tissues are damaged, resulting in altered structure and function. Pain often intervenes, and efforts to compensate for imbalances leads to further injury and impairment. Ligamentous injury may lead eventually to arthritis, and chronic irreversible problems.
Surgery on bones and joints may be recommended and pursued, often without resolving the problem, because the real problem has not been addressed. Prolotherapy is underutilized. It is a non-surgical approach that can strengthen backs, necks, arms and legs, eliminate pain and restore function.
Concentrated dextrose, or sugar water, is combined with a pain-killer such as procaine, vitamin B12, and saline, and injected into the involved ligament or tendon where the tissue meets the bone. There is an initial natural inflammatory response, initiated by the irritative effect of the dextrose. White cells enter the injected area, proliferate and then differentiate into connective tissue-forming cells. The whole process takes about three weeks. Ligaments and tendons thicken and tighten, re-establishing a proper alignment of the bones, and alleviating pain.
The same areas can be re-injected every 3-4 weeks if necessary. If the problem is chronic, usually three or more injections are necessary to achieve a full effect. Complications are uncommon.
Yes. Steroids actually weaken the tissues into which they are injected. They do not promote healing, but retard it. Continued use of steroids causes joints to become looser and more unstable. Prolotherapy has the opposite effect, strengthening joints and connective tissue.
Prolotherapy provides benefit in over 50% of cases. It may be effective even after surgery has been unsuccessful.
Almost any area can be treated with prolotherapy. The most commonly treated locations are the lower back, knees, hips, neck, shoulders and wrists.