Prolotherapy is a therapy that uses injections to stimulate your body’s natural ability to heal. It is specifically used for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain and works by getting your body to increase levels of growth factor around the site of injury in order to generate tissue repair.
Some conditions that are commonly treated with prolotherapy include:
- low back pain
- knee, ankle, shoulder or other joint pain
- neck pain
- whiplash injuries
- chronic sprains and strains
- tennis elbow/golfer’s elbow
- chronic tendonitis/tendonosis
- osteoarthritis-related pain
Your body can normally heal by itself, however, injuries such as the ones listed above involve damage to connective tissues such as ligaments and tendons. One of the quirks about your body is that these connective tissues have relatively poor blood supply. When healthy, these tissues hold your bones together (ligaments) and hold your muscles to your bones (tendons). But when your ligaments and tendons get stretched, they stay that way because they do not receive enough blood supply to heal completely. To compensate for this loosening of your joints, your muscles tighten up (even to the point of spasms). As a result, your joints wear faster, get stiffer, and become painful.
The key to prolotherapy is the injection of a “proliferant” solution at the site of injury to complete the tissue repair. Normally, this means placing small amounts of dextrose to create very specific sites of inflammation where the ligament or tendon attaches. It is this focused inflammation that stimulates the release of growth factor and heals the injury.
Many people, including doctors, have never heard of prolotherapy. Although prolotherapy has been around since the 1930’s, it is just recently gaining in popularity – particularly amongst athletes who are looking for non-surgical treatment of their sports injuries. Perhaps one of the reasons that prolotherapy is still relatively unknown is that there has been little attention paid to connective tissues with respect to pain while most of the focus has been paid to muscles and bones. And even when there ligaments and tendons are suspected, imaging technologies such as MRI can be misleading.
Because the aim of the treatment is to resolve the injury, prolotherapy is a long-term solution whereas pain-killer and anti-inflammatory drugs only mask your pain symptoms. Many patients are even able to avoid surgery after a course of successful prolotherapy treatments. If you are experiencing chronic or acute pain, contact Dr Sheldon Bjorgaard to see if prolotherapy may be appropriate for your condition.