This article will be a brief outline to Prolotherapy using dextrose, blood platelets and stem cells. The use of blood platelets in combination with Prolotherapy maybe referred to as PRP Prolotherapy. Equally the term Stem Cell Prolotherapy may apply to treatments utilizing stem cells.
Prolotherapy is derived from the Latin word “proli” which means to regenerate or rebuild. “Proloi” is an accurate description of what Prolotherapy does – Prolotherapy is a non-surgical ligament and cartilage reconstruction injection therapy that causes the proliferation (growth, formation) of new ligament tissue in areas where joints have become unstable and painful.
Prolotherapy involves the injection of a proliferant (a mild irritant solution) that causes an inflammatory response which “turns on” the healing process. The growth of new ligament and tendon tissue is then stimulated. The ligaments and tendons produced after Prolotherapy appear much the same as normal tissues, except that they are thicker, stronger, and contain fibers of varying thickness, testifying to the new and ongoing creation of tissue.
Ligament and Tendon Inflammation
The localized inflammation triggers a wound healing cascade, resulting in the deposition of new collagen, the material that ligaments and tendons are made of. New collagen shrinks as it matures. The shrinking collagen tightens the ligament that was injected and makes it stronger. Prolotherapy has the potential of being 100 percent effective at eliminating and chronic pain due to ligament and tendon weakness, but depends upon the technique of the individual Prolotherapy doctor. The most important aspect is injecting enough of the solution into the injured and weakened area. If this is done, the likelihood of success is excellent.
Prolotherapy involves the treatment of two specific kinds of tissue: tendons and ligaments. A tendon attaches a muscle to the bone and involves movement of the joint. A ligament connects two bones and is involved in the stability of the joint. A strain is defined as a stretched or injured tendon; a sprain, a stretched or injured ligament. Once these structures are injured, the immune system is stimulated to repair the injured area. Because ligaments and tendons generally have a poor blood supply, incomplete healing is common after injury. This incomplete healing results in these normally taut, strong bands of fibrous or connective tissue becoming relaxed and weak. The relaxed and inefficient ligament or tendon then becomes the source of chronic pain and weakness.
The greatest stresses to the ligaments and tendons are where they attach to the bone, the fibro-osseous junction. The most sensitive structures that produce pain are the periosteum (covering of the bone) and the ligaments. It is important to note that in the scale of pain sensitivity (which part of the body hurts more when injured), the periosteum ranks first, followed by ligaments, tendons, fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds muscle), and finally muscle. Cartilage contains no sensory nerve endings. If you are told that your cartilage is the cause of your pain, you have been misinformed; the cartilage cannot hurt because they contain no pain sensing nerves. If there is cartilage damage, the ligaments are typically the structures that hurt. Ligaments are weakest where they attach to bone. The periosteum is the most sensitive area to pain and the ligaments second. It is now easy to understand why this area hurts so much. This is where the Prolotherapy injections occur, and thus eliminate the chronic pain of many conditions including arthritis, mechanical low back pain, degenerative disc disease, cartilage injury, and sports injuries.
Prolotherapy works by exactly the same process that the human body naturally uses to stimulate the body’s healing system, a process called inflammation. The technique involves the injection of a proliferant (a mild irritant solution) that causes an inflammatory response which “turns on” the healing process. The growth of new ligament and tendon tissue is then stimulated. The ligaments and tendons produced after Prolotherapy appear much the same as normal tissues, except that they are thicker, stronger, and contain fibers of varying thickness, testifying to the new and ongoing creation of tissue. Yes, you heard me right. The ligament and tendon tissue which forms as a result of Prolotherapy is thicker and stronger than normal tissue, up to 40% stronger in some cases!
Is Prolotherapy an option for you?
In 1983, Y. King Liu performed a study using the knee ligament in rabbits. This study was done in order to quantify the strength of the tissue formed by Prolotherapy. In this study, a proliferant was injected into the femoral and tibial attachments of the medial collateral ligament, the inside knee ligament. The ligaments were given five prolotherapy treatments and then compared to non-injected ligaments. The results showed that in every case Prolotherapy significantly increased ligamentous mass, thickness, and cross sectional area as well as the ligament strength. In a six-week period, ligament mass increased by 44 percent, ligament thickness by 27 percent, and the ligament bone junction strength by 28 percent. This research was yet another attestation to the effectiveness of Prolotherapy, showing that Prolotherapy actually causes new tissue to grow. Imagine what it would mean to an athlete to run 40 percent faster, jump 40 percent higher, or be 40 percent stronger? This new growth of stronger, healthier tissue is the normal and desired outcome with Prolotherapy.
Research and Demonstrations
Prolotherapy for TMJ Syndrome
Perhaps the most used joint in the body is the TMJ (the jaw). The tempomandibular joint is stressed every time a person talks or eats. Anyone who has clicking in the joint has a good chance of having ligament injury in the jaw. Prolotherapy is a great alternative for TMJ syndrome. It helps strengthen the TMJ ligament, often resolving a chronically painful, clicking joint.
Prolotherapy for Chronic Low Back Pain
Chronic low back pain encompasses a lot of different conditions including degenerative disc disease, spondylosis, spondylolisthesis, sacroiliac ligament laxity and others. Since these conditions generally have as their etiological basis ligaments being stretched, torn, and weakened Prolotherapy is needed. Typically three-six visits are all that is needed to relieve the pain.
Prolotherapy for Chronic Neck Pain
Like chronic low back pain, chronic neck pain has ligament weakness as a common underlying cause. This can lead to Degenerative Disc Disease in the neck, herniated discs, and myofascial pain syndromes. Typically three-six visits are all that is needed to relieve the pain.
Prolotherapy for Chronic Headaches
I believe because most of us are spending more and more time looking at a computer screen with our necks in poor posture, headaches are on the rise. The forward head posture puts a strain on the posterior ligaments. As these weakened, neck muscles spasm and referral headaches occur. Prolotherapy helps all types of headaches including tension, cluster, and migraine headaches.
Prolotherapy for Knee Arthritis
Athletes are especially prone to knee arthritis. It is also a very large joint which orthopedic like to inject with steroids. These facts combined with the massive use of anti-inflammatories, make knee arthritis very common. About 250,000 Americans each year get knee replacement . A much better option for knee arthritis is Prolotherapy. Depending on the extent of the arthritis anywhere from 3-15 sessions of Prolotherapy are needed.
Prolotherapy for Rotator Cuff Injury
Most shoulder pain is from an injury to the Rotator Cuff. The most common muscle/tendon of the rotator cuff that gets injured is the supraspinatus. The supraspinatus muscle/tendon is an external rotator of the shoulder. It gets a lot of strain/stress when the shoulder ligaments are weakened. This, in addition to the fact that the blood supply to the supraspinatus tendon attachment on the humerus is poor make injury likely especially in people who use their shoulders a lot. Prolotherapy to the rotator cuff attachments onto the shoulder, as well as the shoulder ligaments, is extremely effective at helping chronic shoulder problems resolve. Typically three-six visits of Prolotherapy are all that is needed.
Prolotherapy for Annular Ligament Injury
People understand the term ‘tennis elbow’ but most chronic elbow problems are annular ligament injury. This ligament is stressed during rotation of the elbow. So any athlete who throws or a person who has an occupation using the elbow, such as carpenters and people who type a lot, are prone to annular ligament injury. Generally again three-six visits of Prolotherapy are needed to resolve the problem.
Prolotherapy for Chronic Ankle Sprains
The most common ligament injury in the body is an anterior talofibular ligament injury or ankle sprain. People don’t realize it but one third of all ankle sprains don’t heal completely. Eventually if the ligament injury is not healed, arthritis occurs in the ankle. It is best to treat ligament injuries early before arthritis develops. Again three-six visits of Prolotherapy are needed. If there is arthritis in the ankle then up to 15 visits may be needed. More information on Prolotherapy for chronic ankle sprains.
Prolotherapy for Trochanteric Pain (Hip Pointer)
It is common for people to have pain on the side of the hip. There is a big bone upon which ‘the pain’ sits called the greater trochanter. This is where the gluteal muscles attach. Typically a person is diagnosed with trochanteric bursitis, but the pain is not from a true inflammation of the bursa (fluid filled sac) but just weakness in the muscle/tendon attachments at this site. Prolotherapy onto the greater trochanter bone typically resolves the problem in three-six visits.
Prolotherapy for Fibromyalgia
Yes even people with body pain need Prolotherapy. If a person has whole body pain, they will often have one to three areas that hurt a lot more than others. These are the ones that need Prolotherapy. To get rid of the rest of the body pain the person needs a good nights sleep and to balance body chemistry. So for fibromyalgia typically Prolotherapy is combined with natural medicine. The whole process takes typically a year.
Prolotherapy side effects
Here are some of the side effects of Prolotherapy:
- Bleeding in the area
- Bruising in the area
- Increased pain
- Joint effusion
- Puncture of the lung
- Spinal headache
- Nerve Injury
- Tendon/Ligament Injury
Because Prolotherapy causes Inflammation, the person will often note some bruising, pain, stiffness and swelling in the area after receiving Prolotherapy. Typically this lasts 1 to 7 days. On rare occasions it lasts longer. Lasting longer is not necessarily bad, some people just inflame more easily. Since the treatment works by inflammation, lingering pain after Prolotherapy can be a sign of healing. If the pain is severe after Prolotherapy, then call the office where the Prolotherapy was done. Prolotherapy should not cause excessive, severe pain. Severe pain after Prolotherapy, especially accompanied by a fever, could indicate an infection.
Infection after Prolotherapy is the most serious side effect
The risk of infection after Prolotherapy is between 1 and 1000 to 1 and 10,000 procedures. The most common infection with Prolotherapy is an infection in the skin. This type of infection typically responds to an antibiotic taken by mouth. If a joint or blood infection results, then intravenous antibiotics will typically be needed for six weeks.
Since some of the risks with Prolotherapy relate to the actual technique done, it is important to go to a clinic with a lot of experience. Surely a doctor can stick a needle into a nerve, ligament, or tendon and cause injury. A doctor can stick the needle into the lung when doing the thoracic vertebrae or ribs. A doctor could also stick the needle into the spinal canal when doing any area of the spine and cause a cerebrospinal fluid leak. This is known as a spinal headache (which is a headache when you sit up). The risks of these side effects are rare, but do occur.
In the entire history of Caring Medical, I know of one patient who had a puncture of the lung who needed hospitalization. She refused to go to the hospital after I recognized the problem because someone had to take care of her dog. One of my staff volunteered to watch her dog, and this patient was in the hospital for only two days. She continued to be a client of Caring Medical.
I have taken care of numerous customers from around the country who come to Caring Medical because they have experienced a puncture of the lung from another office. None of these clients had a puncture of the lung after I did the Prolotherapy. But I did tell the clients that just because they received a puncture of the lung in the past, does not mean the technique of Prolotherapy was bad. Everyone’s anatomy is different. Surely if a lung rides high (above first rib) or if a nerve is in an unusual spot, these structures can be hit even though the Prolotherapy technique was good.
There are risks associated with everything you put into your body. All you have to do is look up any of the risks for any anti-inflammatory medications (even over-the-counter medications) to realize even taking them can cause serious risks. For me, I have had numerous Prolotherapy sessions and have treated many family members and friends. I understand that every procedure has risks, but so does not having the procedures. Compared to surgery, Prolotherapy in my opinion is much safer, and in most instances, a better option, with far less risks. I desire not to have chronic pain. I understand living with pain carries its own risk. For me, the potential benefits of Prolotherapy far outweigh the risks. If you continue to suffer with chronic pain or a painful condition is limiting your ability to do the things you want to do, I recommend that you seriously consider Prolotherapy.
Hauser RA, Orlofsky A. Regenerative injection therapy with whole bone marrow aspirate for degenerative joint disease: a case series. Clin Med Insights Arthritis Musculoskelet Disord. 2013 Sep 4;6:65-72. doi: 10.4137/CMAMD.S10951.
Kim E, Lee JH. Autologous Platelet-Rich Plasma Versus Dextrose Prolotherapy for the Treatment of Chronic Recalcitrant Plantar Fasciitis. . PM R. 2013 Jul 19. pii: S1934-1482(13)00369-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2013.07.003.