What is Prolotherapy?
Prolotherapy is short for proliferative therapy, which is a regenerative injection therapy that is a natural and non-surgical option for treating chronic pain and musculoskeletal injuries.
How does it work?
Prolotherapy (or “Prolo”) involves the injection of a natural irritant (usually 5% dextrose) into the injured or damaged soft tissue (ligaments, tendons, cartilage) of an injured joint. The irritant kick-starts the body’s healing response allowing the tissue to heal.
The injection of the irritant causes a local inflammatory response that stimulates cells in the area to repair and regenerate damaged tissue. The Inflammation created is caused both by the concentration of the dextrose solution itself and the trauma from the needle.
The inflammation response triggers the healing cascade by activating fibroblasts (for ligaments and tendons) and chondroblasts (for cartilage), stimulating the production of collagen. Once activated, the body can strengthen and repair damage in the joint and over time this may improve stability in the joint and repair damage which can result in less pain and reduced joint wear.
Prolotherapy usually requires several injections to the injured area to be effective. Patients can typically expect to receive 4-8 treatments over the course of 2 to 6 months. Each treatment entails multiple injections based on the size of the tissue to be treated and the severity of injury/damage.
Who is a good candidate for Prolotherapy?
Prolotherapy can be an excellent treatment for people with tendon and ligament strains/sprains resulting in joint instability as well as for more chronic arthritic conditions. As some conditions may not respond as favorably to prolotherapy, other procedures may be suggested.
What is the injection process?
- When you come in for your appointment the practitioner will go over your case, explain the procedure including any indications and contraindications to treatment or after-care, review the consent form and answer any questions that you may have.
- The patient will then be asked to change into appropriate clothing (e.g., shorts or tank top), positioned on the table and the area to be injected will be swabbed.
- The injections will begin after the swabbing dries. At any point you can talk to the doctor about adjusting the injections or describing what you may be feeling.
- Once the injections are completed, you will dress (if needed) and review the after-care instructions with your doctor.
What can I expect after my injection?
Immediately following the procedure, the affected joint may feel worse before beginning to feel better. It is not uncommon to experience temporary swelling or aching at the injection sites for 2-3 days. An ice pack or Tylenol (no other pain killer) will usually settle this down.
When can I expect results and how long will they last?
Many people notice increased strength and reduced pain within the first couple of treatments. It is worth noting that this quick reduction in pain is actually the result of the effect dextrose has on the nerves by blocking the pain signals. The full healing of damaged tissue may take months to occur.
Prolotherapy is an all-natural, semi-permanent treatment, as it relies on the body to repair itself to reduce pain.
How long before I can return to exercise after my injection?
Generally, there is very little down time following prolotherapy. We recommend easing back into normal activities after approximately 2-4 days.