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Prolotherapy involves injecting a substance into the body to promote
the growth of normal cells, tissues, or organs. There are three types of
prolotherapy. The type used to treat joint pain is called inflammatory
In inflammatory prolotherapy, a sugar water solution (dextrose) is
injected into a weakened ligament near where the ligament attaches to the bone.
The injection is intended to cause inflammation. The body responds to the
inflammation by increasing blood flow to the area and stimulating the ligament
to repair itself. Usually, a person would have a series of 4 to 6 treatments,
each about 2 weeks apart.
A review of several
studies suggests that prolotherapy injections alone may not be helpful for
chronic low back pain. But they may reduce pain and help you be more active if
they are used in addition to other treatment such as exercise and spinal
manipulation.footnote 1 A separate review concludes that prolotherapy may not work.footnote 2
The biggest risk in prolotherapy treatment is nerve damage
from an injection placed too close to a nerve. There are also no established
guidelines for the procedure at this time. Most pain experts do not recommend prolotherapy for low back pain.
Dagenais S, et al. (2010). Prolotherapy injections for chronic low-back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2).
Chou R, et al. (2009). Interventional therapies, surgery and interdisciplinary rehabilitation for low back pain: An evidence-based clinical practice guideline from the American Pain Society. Spine, 34(10): 1066–1077.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerNancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Current as ofJune 20, 2016
Current as of:
June 20, 2016
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
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