What is Prolotherapy?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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Sometimes referred to as regeneration injection therapy, prolotherapy is a type of therapy used to treat pain at various points along the back, as well as joint instability. The basic approach to this back pain solution is to inject a small amount of non-pharmacological solution into the tissue that surrounds. This tough tissue, known as the periosteum, responds to the injection by triggering the growth of thicker tissue. In theory, prolotherapy helps alleviate pain in the back because the new tissue growth strengthens the weakened ligaments and tendons that are causing the pain, and also promotes a healthier blood supply to the legs and arms.

This approach to nonsurgical ligament reconstruction involves the use of some sort of solution that contains no type of medication, but does contain elements that will irritate the periosteum and motivate the growth of new tissue. Sugar solutions are a common selection, although a solution composed of any number of benign elements that will trigger irritation will do. The pain of the injections is said to be considerably less than the amount of discomfort the patient already feels, and is short lived.


Alternative practitioners who make use of prolotherapy look for specific signs that the origin of the back pain has to do with weakened ligaments and tendons. Some of these signs include back pain accompanied with a sense that the legs are about to collapse, continual popping and clicking in the joints, and recurring swelling in a particular region or joint for no apparent reason.

Patients who receive relief with the use of chiropractic treatments often make use of prolotherapy to help with the soreness that sometimes occurs after a manipulation. In situations where chiropractic methods do not quite eliminate the pain, the injections can often take care of as residual discomfort. People who have undergone surgery and still experience pain in the general area of the spine may also benefit from the use of prolotherapy.

While there are many alternative practitioners who promote the use of this type of treatment, practitioners of Western medicine do not universally agree that this approach is the best solution for pain resulting from loosened tendons and ligaments. Some concerns include adverse reactions to the irritating ingredients found in some solutions, long-term damage to the periosteum, and the possibility of placing stress on ligaments and tendons that causes them to further deteriorate rather than become stronger. Still, there is a considerable amount of anecdotal evidence that convinces many people that this type of therapy is worth trying, especially if conventional methods have failed to alleviate the pain.


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