Prolotherapy is an injection technique used to treat joint pain and instability.
It works by stimulating the body’s natural ability to build new connective tissue.
Chronic joint pain and pain from joint injuries are conditions I see often in my practice, and they can be extremely hard on the patients who suffer from them. It’s heartbreaking for me to see people who’ve been forced to give up the activities they love most due to joint pain.
Whether it’s running, walking, skiing, biking, golf, tennis, or any other sport – these activities are hard to go without. Then there are the sleepless nights and the inability to enjoy simple, daily things like playing with the kids that often add to the suffering.
That’s why, when I had the opportunity to learn Prolotherapy, I jumped on it. And not only did I have the opportunity to learn Prolotherapy, I had the opportunity to learn it from a number of experienced, gifted doctors during my residency at the renowned Yellowstone Naturopathic Clinic in Billings, Montana.
My primary mentor was Dr. Debrah Angersbach, one of the leading physicians practicing Prolotherapy in the Northern Rocky Mountain region. Dr. Angersbach has been using the treatment with great success in her practice for years, and I was lucky enough to receive weekly mentorship and supervision from her over the course of my residency.
Like any other medical treatment, Prolotherapy does not work 100 percent of the time for 100 percent of patients. However, in my experience, most patients see dramatic improvements over the course of treatment.
During my year-long residency training in Prolotherapy, I only observed one patient who did not get relief from joint pain. And Prolotherapy typically starts working right away. Approximately 80% of my patients start feeling better after the first treatment.
There’s nothing like seeing the smiles on the faces of my patients when they describe how wonderful it feels to get relief from joint pain and get back out doing the activities they love so much.
In the case of chronic ligament or tendon pain that hasn’t responded to more conservative treatments such as prescribed exercise and physical therapy, Prolotherapy may be helpful.
I have been a patient who has benefited from Prolotherapy…my intractable pain was not intractable and I was remarkably improved to the point where my pain ceased to be a problem.
I wouldn’t be skiing now if it weren’t for Prolotherapy.
Twelve hours after the first treatment of both infraspinatus muscles I had zero pain at the rear of either shoulder. I had suffered through persistent pain and soreness at the back of both shoulders for more than six years, and one 15 minute session fixed both of them. To date, no pain has returned.
What conditions can benefit from prolotherapy?
How does prolotherapy work?
Prolotherapy works by stimulating the body to produce new connective tissue, resulting in a more stable joint with less or no pain. More specifically, the procedure creates a localized controlled inflammatory response, which signals the body to repair and strengthen the tendons and ligaments in the area. In addition, the treatment supplies nutrients to the joint and increases blood flow in the area.
How long does prolotherapy take to work?
Many patients see improvement immediately. However, others see a gradual improvement over 4-6 weeks (the time it takes for new tissue to develop). Prolotherapy works to actually heal the damaged tissue and therefore can have lasting effects.
What is the treatment like?
A Prolotherapy treatment involves several injections with very small needles into the affected area. The procedure can take anywhere from 5 to 30 min depending what part of the body is being treated. I will need time to assess the injury and confirm that Prolotherapy is the proper and safe treatment for you. For this reason, a first visit with treatment usually lasts about 1 hour and a follow up visit with treatment typically lasts 45 to 30 minutes.
What is the recovery time?
There is no prolonged recovery time and patients can return to about 70% of their normal activity immediately after the injection, with full activity acceptable after 5-7 days.
Is there any published research on prolotherapy?
Yes. There have been dozens of published studies on Prolotherapy. Examples of medical journals where these studies have been published include: The Journal of Neurological and Orthopedic Medicine and Surgery, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, The Journal of Spinal Disorders, and The Journal of Orthopaedic Medicine.
What is in the solution used in prolotherapy?
In my practice, I use a solution of dextrose (a sugar), procaine (a numbing agent), and B12 (a vitamin). The dextrose acts as an irritant to the tissue and “tricks” the body into thinking there is a new injury. The B12 is a nutrient that helps with tissue repair, and the procaine helps make the procedure more comfortable. The combination of dextrose and procaine has been used for over 70 years in Prolotherapy. Many studies have shown this solution to be both effective and safe.
How long has prolotherapy been used?
The first reported cases of Prolotherapy and its success date back to the 1930s. Then, in 1956, a surgeon by the name of George Hackett, MD published the first textbook on Prolotherapy. The success rate reported by Dr. Hackett was 82% in his treatment of back pain. The next historical milestone for Prolotherapy was a study published in 1983 in Connective Tissue Research, which demonstrated connective tissue repair with Prolotherapy in rabbits. Since that time, numerous clinical trials have demonstrated success in the treatment of joint pain with Prolotherapy. It has even gained notoriety with the Mayo Clinic, which featured Prolotherapy in its Health Letter publication in 2005.