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Reconstructive therapy is a nonsurgical therapy for joint pain and degeneration. It involves the injection of nutrient mixtures into the joint to promote the regrowth of ligaments and other connective tissues, with the goal of stabilizing the joint. This therapy is usually classified as an alternative or complementary therapy, and it is most commonly offered by osteopathic physicians, although allopathic physicians may sometimes consider it as a treatment option.
Practiced since the 1920s, reconstructive therapy relies on stimulating the body's connective tissue to grow. It is also known as proliferative or prolotherapy, in a reference to the idea that it encourages connective tissues to proliferate at the injection site. Practitioners can offer injections anywhere in the body, although this treatment is often recommended specifically for low back pain and hip pain.
Before reconstructive therapy can be used, a thorough patient examination must be conducted where the doctor palpates the joint, determines the range of motion available to the patient, and interviews the patient about his or her medical history. Medical imaging studies are used to learn more about the extent of the damage to the joint and the cause. If the doctor feels that the patient is a good candidate, a series of injections will be performed, with periodic repeat imaging studies to monitor progress at the site. It is important to address the underlying cause of the joint degeneration in the process of treating it.
The goal of reconstructive therapy is to stabilize and strengthen joints. People can be candidates if they have degenerative joint conditions that cause breakdowns of ligaments and other connective tissues, and in the wake of sports injuries that rupture or bruise connective tissue around the joints. There are risks to this injection technique, such as introducing the contents of the syringe to an unintended area or of causing an infection at the injection site. The procedure must be performed by a physician who has been trained in reconstructive therapy.
Physicians may encourage their patients to use stretching and other techniques while undergoing reconstructive therapy. Practices such as yoga can also strengthen the joints and help patients develop more stability. It is especially important to slowly build strength in the joint to avoid causing injuries by overworking or straining. A physical therapist or personal trainer can work with a patient to develop a safe exercise regimen that will rebuild the joint without stressing it before it is fully healed.