Prolotherapy is an injection technique used to treat chronic pain related to damage to underlying ligament and/or tendon structures. It involves injecting a small amount of a mixture of Novocain and dextrose (sugar), or other similar solution, directly at the site of damage. The sugar stimulates the body’s natural healing and repair processes.
The concept behind prolotherapy dates as far back as the ancient Greeks, when Hippocrates would treat athletes with unstable shoulders. He described touching the tip of a slender hot metal rod to the damaged ligaments. This “cauterized” the ligaments, causing them to tighten up. (It is interesting to note that orthopedic surgeons have used a similar technique surgically, involving lasers or heat probes, to tighten loose shoulder ligaments.) Modern use of prolotherapy traces its roots to the early 20th century when a surgeon from Ohio, George Hackett MD, started treating patients with chronic low back pain by injecting the ligaments around the low back. He demonstrated an 80-90% success rate.
The sugar solution is an irritant (like getting lemon juice in a cut on your finger), and it creates a local inflammatory reaction. This reaction then stimulates or “jump starts” the body’s own natural repair mechanisms.
Today, prolotherapy is used successfully to treat many different painful conditions, including:
Effective treatment usually takes between 3 and 6 treatments. Treatments are given approximately once a month. If no signs of improvement are seen after 3 treatments, treatment is usually discontinued. If there is marked improvement after only 1-2 treatments, then no further treatments may be necessary. There is no limit to the number of treatments that may be given, as long as improvement continues to be seen. There is also no increase in risk factors with subsequent treatments.
The effectiveness of prolotherapy treatment may be enhanced by improving nutrition (including taking supplements such as glucosamine and MSM) and optimizing hormone balance.
Prolotherapy is extremely safe, and while there are risks to any injection procedure, the risks are minimal. At Valley Sports Physicians, we have never had any long-term adverse effects from prolotherapy treatments. We've been performing Prolotherapy since 1995 – longer than any physician in Connecticut and longer than most in all of New England and even in the US!
Call us to schedule an appointment to see if your injury may respond to prolotherapy.
(NOTE: All of our Stem Cell treatments are performed by our affiliate, the New England Stem Cell Institute.)