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Prolotherapy, also referred to as proliferation therapy, is a regenerative treatment option that uses injections of a solution into joints or other parts of the body to alleviate pain and inflammation. The solution usually comprises a mixture of dextrose, saline, and anesthetic and is intended to activate the body’s natural healing process. Prolotherapy is occasionally used to treat conditions such as osteoarthritis, tendinitis, and chronic lower back pain.

Musculoskeletal pain is often associated with damage, laxity, or weakening of connective tissue, which normally controls joint movement and provides support for activities such as standing, sitting, and movement of the limbs. These tissues are commonly damaged by trauma and the initial healing response may not be sufficient to fully repair the structures. Anti-inflammatory medications, which are often taken after an injury, can also inhibit the healing process and result in limited connective tissue healing. Hormonal changes and deficiencies, such as those that occur during pregnancy, hypothyroidism, menopause, or andropause (male hormone deficiency associated with aging) can negatively impact these tissues as well. Some individuals may also be predisposed to connective tissue weakness due to genetic variations, such as weaker collagen or more elastic ligaments, or other as-yet-undiscovered causes. The result of reduced structural stability is a chronic strain of the remaining ligament and tendon fibers.

Prolotherapy can be used to strengthen various structures such as ligaments, tendons, and joints throughout the body, and therefore, it is likely that patients with pain in the neck, mid-back, or low back will respond well to treatment. Other structures that may respond well to treatment include the hip, knee, ankle, toe, shoulder, elbow, wrist, finger, and thumb often resulting in reduced pain. 

What Are The Potential Benefits For Administering Prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy is typically administered through a series of injections. The procedure typically follows these steps:

  1. The patient is positioned in a comfortable position, usually lying down, with the joint to be treated exposed.
  2. The practitioner will clean the area to be injected and numb it using a local anesthetic.
  3. The practitioner will use a small needle to inject the prolotherapy solution into the joint or other area of the body. The solution usually contains a mixture of dextrose, saline, and anesthetic.
  4. The practitioner will typically administer several injections in a single treatment session, and the number of injections needed will depend on the size of the area being treated and the severity of the condition.
  5. After the injections, the practitioner will apply a bandage or wrap to the area and the patient is usually allowed to go home.
  6. The patient may experience some discomfort or pain at the injection site, but this is usually mild and short-lived.

Multiple treatment sessions are usually needed, usually once a week or every other week, depending on the condition and response to treatment.

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What Are The Potential Benefits Of Prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy has several potential benefits, including:

Reducing Pain: Prolotherapy can reduce pain by promoting healing and repair of the joint or tissue. The injected solution stimulates the body’s natural healing process, which can lead to a reduction in pain and inflammation.

Improving Function and Ability to Perform Daily Activities Without Pain: As pain is reduced, patients may have an improved ability to perform daily activities without pain showing an overall improvement in quality of life and a greater ability to participate in work, leisure, and other activities.

Increasing Strength in Injected Areas: Prolotherapy can also lead to an increase in strength in the injected areas. The treatment stimulates the growth of new collagen, which is a key component of tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. This can lead to stronger and more resilient joints and tissues, which can help prevent future injury.

Reducing Stiffness: Prolotherapy can also help to reduce stiffness, particularly in the lower back or neck. The treatment promotes the growth of new collagen and the repair of damaged tissue, which can lead to greater flexibility and range of motion in the affected area. This can also help to reduce the risk of future injury.

What Conditions Can Be Treated By Prolotherapy?

A number of conditions can be treated using prolotherapy, including osteoarthritis, tendinitis, hip, knee, and back pain. As well as treating ligaments and cartilage injuries, it is also effective for chronic headaches and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain. Among the conditions treated with Prolotherapy are fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and scoliosis. Some practitioners use Prolotherapy for conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and some cases of scoliosis.

Research Supporting Prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy had been researched as a treatment for conditions such as lower back pain, knee osteoartritis and rotator culf injuries and showed improvement in pain, function and quality of life. Investigatirts were still itneredted to learn if prolotherapy is a good therapy choice for long term chroinc pain management, and set up a study in 2021*, specifically to learn about thre efffectvness of Prolotherapy for chronic musculoskeletal pain. The researchers analyzed data from 10 studies with 750 participants and found that prolotherapy was as effective in treating chronic pain as platelet-rich plasma or steroid injection.

*Anesth Pain Med (Seoul). 2021 Jan;16(1):81-95.

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