Prolotherapy is a treatment technique used for chronic myofascial pain, back pain, osteoarthritis, or sports injury. It involves repeated injections of dextrose solution or other irritating substances into the joint, tendon, or painful tissue in order to provoke a regenerative tissue response.
Prolotherapy has been utilized in clinical practices for over 80 years. Standardized and reviewed in clinical application by Dr. George Hackett in the 1950s, prolotherapy has been shown to be an effective treatment in patients who suffer from joint instability due to ligament damage and overuse and related musculoskeletal and osteoarthritis.
Prolotherapy’s popularity as a treatment for chronic pain has intensified over the past two decades among both physicians and patients as clinical and anecdotal observations has proved in many cases its reliance as a non-surgical option for joint and back pain.
Prolotherapy works by exactly the same process that the human body naturally uses to stimulate the body’s healing system, a process called inflammation. The technique involves the injection of a proliferant (a mild irritant solution) that causes an inflammatory response which “turns on” the healing process. Injections are given into joints, or where tendon connects to bone.
Irritant solutions most often contain dextrose (d-glucose), a natural form of glucose normally found in the body, but may also contain combinations of polidocanol, manganese, zinc, human growth hormone, pumice, ozone, glycerin, or phenol.
The growth of new ligament and tendon tissue is then stimulated. The ligaments, which connect bones together, may be stretched and torn. Tendons attach muscles to bone and may also be torn. The capsule surrounding joints may become lax (loose) and also contribute to pain. All of these may be strengthened and "tightened" with Prolotherapy, reducing the "play" in the joints, reducing arthritis, and bonding the clicking or popping structures in a way that is much more functional and normal. Cartilage has been shown to be repaired and thickened after a series of Prolotherapy injections.
The ligaments and tendons produced after Prolotherapy appear much the same as normal tissues, except that they are thicker, stronger, and contain fibers of varying thickness, testifying to the new and ongoing creation of tissue. The ligament and tendon tissue which forms as a result of Prolotherapy is thicker and stronger than normal tissue, up to 50% stronger in some cases.