Dextrose Prolotherapy For Unresolved Low Back Pain: A Retrospective Case Series Study – A

Ross Hauser, MD & Marion A. Hauser, MS, RD


Objective: To investigate the outcomes of patients undergoing Hackett-Hemwall dextrose Prolotherapy treatment for chronic low back pain.

Design: One hundred forty-five patients, who had been in pain an average of four years and ten months, were treated quarterly with Hackett-Hemwall dextrose Prolotherapy. This included a subset of 55 patients who were told by their medical doctor(s) that there were no other treatment options for their pain and a subset of 26 patients who were told by their doctor(s) that surgery was their only option. Patients were contacted an average of 12 months following their last Prolotherapy session and asked questions regarding their levels of pain, physical and psychological symptoms and activities of daily living, before and after their last Prolotherapy treatment.

Results: In these 145 low backs, pain levels decreased from 5.6 to 2.7 after Prolotherapy; 89% experienced more than 50% pain relief with Prolotherapy; more than 80% showed improvements in walking and exercise ability, anxiety, depression and overall disability; 75% percent were able to completely stop taking pain medications. The decrease in pain reached statistical significance at the p

Conclusion: In this retrospective study on the use of Hackett-Hemwall dextrose Prolotherapy, patients who presented with over four years of unresolved low back pain were shown to improve their pain, stiffness, range of motion, and quality of life measures even 12 months subsequent to their last Prolotherapy session. This pilot study shows that Prolotherapy is a treatment that should be considered and further studied for people suffering with unresolved low back pain.


Low back pain is one of the leading causes of physical limitation and disability in the United States today. Each year, 65,000 patients are permanently disabled by conditions associated with back pain, and 80% of the U.S. population is estimated to suffer back pain at some point in their lives.1,2 Though acute back pain is believed to be self-limiting, it recurs at a rate of approximately 90%.3 In one study, only 25% of the patients who consulted a general practice about low back pain had fully recovered 12 months later.4 For those who do recover, relapses can be frequent and severe, with two to seven percent developing chronic pain.5

There is some consensus in the medical community on how to treat acute low back pain, but treatment of chronic pain presents many challenges and little agreement on standard of care. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antidepressants provide some short-term benefit, but no published data warrant their long-term use.6 Manipulative therapy, physiotherapy, and massage therapy studies have also shown only temporary benefit.7,8 Long-term results on more invasive therapies, such as intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET) or surgery, have been poor.9,10 Some believe the poor results for the treatment of chronic low back pain stem from the fact that too much emphasis has been placed on pain arising from the intervertebral discs and not enough on chronic low back pain originating from the sacroiliac joint and ligaments.11,12 Because of the limited response to traditional therapies, many people have looked to other approaches for pain control. Prolotherapy (proliferative therapy), also known as regenerative injection therapy, is a nonsurgical injection therapy used to treat unresolved musculoskeletal pain and has shown some promise in relieving lower back pain.13 The procedure involves injecting soft connective tissue with one or more proliferants designed to provoke local inflammation, stimulating the body’s production of collagen at the injection site. The resulting growth of new ligament and tendon tissue is believed to alleviate pain.

Free access to this Prolotherapy research on back pain article can be found at the Journal of Prolotherapy.

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