Can prolotherapy treat my joint pain?

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What is prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy, also known as proliferation or regenerative injection therapy, is a non-surgical, complementary treatment that involves the prolotherapy injection  of a natural irritant into an injured joint to promote growth and healing. The irritant is usually a solution made from saline or dextrose and helps to reduce stiffness and pain in the affected joint as well as improve strength and mobility by triggering the body’s healing response . The treatment has been used to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis in the knees, hips, and fingers, fibromyalgia, sprains and strains, and degenerative disc disease, but is not recommended for those with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. Instead, platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection is recommended for patients with osteoarthritic profiles. 

How to prepare for the procedure?

To prepare for the procedure, your physician will order either an MRI or X-ray to examine the state of your affected joint and ensure you are a candidate for the treatment. You will also be asked to stop taking certain medications, such as anti-inflammatories 2 to 3 days before the procedure, and eat a protein-rich meal. To prepare your skin for the injection your physician will clean the area with rubbing alcohol and apply a topical anesthetic, such as lidocaine, to numb the area. The irritant solution will then be injected into the joint using a long, thin needle anywhere from 4 to 15 times followed by an ice or heat pack applied immediately after to reduce swelling. In total, the procedure takes around 30 minutes and patients are able to go home the same day.

What can you expect after the procedure?

It is normal to experience stiffness and swelling in the joint the day following the procedure. However, most patients are able to return to their normal daily activities by the next day. If you experience severe pain or a fever, you should contact your doctor right away, as this can be a sign of an adverse reaction. Some side effects include infection, bruising, bleeding, or an allergic reaction. Depending on the type of condition you could need to receive follow-up injections over the course of several weeks. 

In Conclusion

The overall goal of prolotherapy is to permanently strengthen the affected joint by triggering the body’s repair response. Although research done on the therapy has involved small sample sizes, a majority of the research has yielded promising results. It is important to keep in mind, however, that prolotherapy is a complementary treatment that has shown even more promising results in conjunction with physical therapy, an active lifestyle, and a healthy diet. All in all, the procedure is a great alternative to opioid medication, which provides temporary results, or surgery, which can lead to further damage of the joint over time. 

Author: Nawal Panjwani

Editor: Ospina Medical Team

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.