What you need to know about Prolotherapy
Have you or someone you know experienced a shoulder or knee injury that seemed as if it took forever to heal? Have you struggled to regain the same function that existed prior to the injury? Whether it is pain that won’t go away or loss of function, Prolotherapy might be the remedy.
Prolotherapy is a safe, effective, non-surgical treatment for chronic pain using dextrose injections to jumpstart healing. This method has been used for decades on various types of musculoskeletal injuries.
Pain frequently occurs as a result of overuse injuries, falls, athletic endeavors and typically involves the soft tissues in the body, including fascia, tendons, ligaments, joints, and joint capsules. All these connective tissues link to our skeleton and assist in stabilization and strength. More specifically, ligaments connect bones to other bones and tendons connect muscle to bones and are the welds in the body that creates normal motion, strength, and stability.
Prolotherapy is done to repair and strengthen these connections and thereby eliminate or decrease pain. Think of this as welding structures together that have been weakened. The best part is that Prolotherapy is a natural way to treat these problems by using the body’s inherent healing mechanisms. Sometimes our bodies simply need help “jumpstarting” the healing process, and Prolotherapy does just that. Prolotherapy is not a “bandaid solution” like other pain medication or steroid injections.
How does Prolotherapy work?
How it works is quite simple. When connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, joints) is injured, healing is slow or incomplete due to poor blood flow. Injections with Prolotherapy increase blood flow by causing localized inflammation (note- not all inflammation is bad) and initiating the normal healing cascade. Though this takes time, the treated tissues heal naturally by regaining strength and stability. When left untreated, these injuries lead to chronic pain not only from local injury but because the part of the skeleton that these connective tissues hold together become destabilized and creates pain, spasm, malalignment, and eventually arthritis.
Why don’t other treatments help?
Medications and other forms of therapy such as ultrasound, ice, heat, massage, and manipulation may give temporary or minimal lasting benefits. This is because the underlying primary problem, damaged and loose tendons/ligaments, is not addressed. Additionally, strength training, though helpful, is still not treating the root cause.
Most Prolotherapy solution is made with dextrose mixed with lidocaine (an anesthetic) which is injected in the damaged or injured connective tissue to stimulate repair. This is in contrast to the use of cortisone or steroids which decrease inflammation, blocks pain signals, and will slow or stop the normal healing process. Though this will make someone feel better temporarily, the problem usually returns and frequently worsens due to misuse and weakening of connective tissue.
With Prolotherapy there is no masking of pain as connective tissue heals naturally and becomes stronger. The end result is long-lasting pain relief, improved stability, and normal function.