What is Prolotherapy?
Prolotherapy (short for proliferative therapy) stimulates the body’s natural healing factors to strengthen and repair injured joints, ligaments and tendons. This minimally invasive procedure is used to address a number of musculoskeletal conditions including:
- Back pain due to degenerative disc disease, sacroiliac joint instability, facet joint syndrome and nerve pain
- Neck pain due to arthritis or whiplash injury
- Knee pain caused by osteoarthritis, meniscal tears or sprains
- Arm and shoulder pain as a result of arthritis, rotator cuff tendon tears, golfer’s elbow, tennis
- elbow and chronic tendonitis.
Studies have shown that 85 to 95 percent of patients with back pain experience improvement with prolotherapy. [i] Additional studies have also shown prolotherapy is successful for various ligament, tendon or joint pain/injuries, including knee arthritis. The Annals of Family Medicine reported that a randomized controlled trial of prolotherapy in patients with knee osteoarthritis resulted in clinically meaningful sustained improvement of pain, function, and stiffness.[ii]
How It Works
Prolotherapy stimulates the body’s natural healing mechanisms to produce new tissue. Using fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance, the physician injects a mixture of local anesthetics and dextrose (a sugar-based solution) directly to the injured area. The dextrose works as an irritant to kick start the body’s natural healing response and encourages the growth of normal ligament and tendon fibers. This results in long-term healing and pain relief. In some cases, the treatment is repeated with the goal of restoring strength and stability without loss of flexibility and function. As the body heals the pain subsides, in most cases, permanently.
Prolotherapy, when used in lower concentrations, has also been shown to help with nerve pain by blocking nerve pain impulses. This can provide immediate pain relief to joint, nerve and soft tissue injuries.
For patients with advanced injury or degeneration, prolotherapy can be combined with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and autologous (from the same person) adult regenerative cells to boost the regenerative process. Every formulation is specifically targeted to the patient’s unique needs.
Is Prolotherapy Safe?
In contrast to many medical treatments that may provide only temporary benefits, prolotherapy is a safe treatment that offers long-term relief.
Prolotherapy is an in-office procedure performed under local anesthetic. There is no hospitalization required, nor the need for extended rehabilitation. Most patients are able to resume their daily activities immediately. Even those who require additional treatments are likely to enjoy significant pain relief after just one treatment.
Like every other medical intervention, the success of prolotherapy can be impacted by the patient’s overall health as well as any underlying nutritional or genetic deficiencies that might make healing more difficult. It is important to talk with your doctor about the best methods to optimize your health and healing potential.
Dr. Christopher J. Rogers and Dr. Mary A. Ambach of San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group are leaders in the field of regenerative medicine and have been performing prolotherapy with great success for decades. They serve as faculty members and lecturers at national and international medical conferences and serve on the board of directors for several regenerative medicine organizations. They have published scientific papers in the medical literature and are dedicated to excellent patient care and advancing the field of regenerative medicine.