What is Prolotherapy?
Prolotherapy (Proliferative Therapy), also know as Regenerative Joint Injection, is a recognized orthopedic procedure that stimulates the body’s healing processes to strengthen and repair injured and painful joints/connective tissue. When ligaments or tendons (connective tissue) are stretched or torn, the joint they are holding destabilizes and can cause pain. Prolotherapy has the unique ability to directly address the cause of the instability, repairing the weakened sites and producing new collagen tissue which results in permanent stabilization of the joint. Once the joint is stabilized, pain will usually resolve. Traditional approaches with surgery have more risk and may fail to stabilize the joint and relieve pain. Surgery can also result in a build-up of scar tissue which may cause other problems. Taking anti-inflammatory medications or other pain relievers only act temporarily as well.
How does Prolotherapy work?
Prolotherapy stimulates the body’s natural healing mechanisms to lay down new tissue in the weakened area. This is done by a precisely placed injection to the injury site, which “tricks” the body to repair again. A mild inflammatory response is created which encourages growth of new, normal ligament or tendon fibers, resulting in a tightening of the weakened structure. Several treatments over time repeat this process, allowing a gradual buildup of tissue to restore the original strength and stability to the area.
What is in the solution that is injected?
Local anesthetics to help reduce the pain of the injection in addition to natural substances such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and autologous (from the same person) adult stem cell sources, typically taken from adipose (fat) tissue that stimulate the healing process are used in Prolotherapy. The physician tailors the selection of the appropriate formula according to the patient’s need.
Is the Prolotherapy treatment painful?
There may be a temporary increase in pain with mild swelling and stiffness to the treated area. The discomfort normally passes quickly and may be managed with over the counter medications or other prescribed medications by the treating physician. Always double check before taking an anti-inflammatory medication for pain relief following prolotherapy as certain anti-inflammatory medications may suppress the desired inflammatory healing process that is produced by the prolotherapy treatment.
Can Prolotherapy help everyone?
The physician will evaluate each patient with a history, physical exam, and appropriate imaging studies. Sometimes laboratory work will be ordered prior to treatment. Success of treatment with prolotherapy depends on several factors such as the history of the damage, the patient’s overall health and ability to heal, and any underlying nutritional deficiencies that may impede the healing process. Prolotherapy has a high success rate in appropriate patients.
What areas of the body can be treated?
- Low back or mid-back pain including degenerative disc disease and sacro-iliac joint instability/dysfunction
- neck pain
- knee pain
- knee meniscal tears
- wrist or hand pain
- shoulder pain including rotator cuff tears
- elbow pain including golfers or tennis elbow
- foot pain including plantar fasciitis
- ankle pain or instability
- IT band syndrome,
- piriformis syndrome
- temporal mandibular joint syndrome (TMJ)
- other musculoskeletal pain or injury
How often do I need these treatments?
The specific problem, the severity of the area being treated, and the physicians protocol will determine the treatment intervals. The average treatment interval is every 3 to 6 weeks for a total of 4 to 6 treatments. However, some individuals may require more or less treatments depending on the area being treated.
What’s the rate of success in treatment for prolotherapy?
Studies have shown that when prolotherapy was used in patients with low back pain, 85% to 95% of patients experienced improvement compared to just 52% experiencing improvement with back surgery. There are multiple studies that have been conducted over the years that show a high success rate for ligament, tendon, and/or joint pain and injuries using prolotherapy. With advances in Regenerative Medicine, more advanced formulas such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) which contains growth factors, and autologous Adult Stem Cell sources, allow for even more enhanced healing and better results.
Is this form of therapy really new?
As early as 500 B.C. Roman soldiers would use hot branding irons to fuse torn ligaments in the shoulder joint to treat shoulder joint dislocations. Advances in medicine has greatly improved this process with newer less damaging techniques such as prolotherapy, which works to strengthen and regenerate the weakened/injured joint, rather than relying on the scarring/fusing effect to strengthen the joint. A well-known Orthopedist named Earl Gedney D.O. began injecting joints in the 1940s and 1950s. He researched joint injections and published his findings over the rest of his lifetime.