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. Contact Valley Sports Physicians & Orthopedic Medicine to learn more about the use of prolotherpay for Glastonbury, CT patients.
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 & Orthopedic Medicine, 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.)
Many patients who come to see us have never heard of prolotherapy before, so as you can imagine, they have quite a few questions when we bring it up as an option! This is to be expected, and before you give us a call, we’ve gone ahead and answered some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about this treatment. If there is anything else you’d like to know that we haven’t touched on this page, be sure to reach out to our team.
No, as it just involves injecting the affected area, which will be rubbed with a local anesthetic first. We understand that many of our patients don’t like injections or might even be afraid of needles, but the treatment itself is very comfortable.
Because prolotherapy is designed to slightly irritate the tissues in order to help the body heal, right after an injection, a patient may experience a small amount of swelling, bruising, and tenderness in the immediate area. Typically, these symptoms go away after a few days, and then the patient will start to experience the benefits. In some cases, these side effects may last for about a week, but if they linger beyond this, then we recommend that a patient give us a call (this happens rarely, fortunately).
Prolotherapy is typically recommended for patients dealing with mild to moderate musculoskeletal injuries or pain associated with osteoarthritis. Over the decades, it has been used on professional athletes, weekend warriors, and even high school and college students. It is not recommended for patients with severe injuries that might require surgery, plus they need to have a healthy immune system (meaning the body can easily respond to the inflammation brought on by the treatment).
Because prolotherapy, like other regenerative medicine techniques we offer at Valley Sports Physicians, is considered to be a “newer” treatment (despite it having been around for about 70 years), it is largely not covered by insurance. This means a patient will have to pay for treatment(s) out-of-pocket in most cases, but we offer flexible payment options to ensure that it’s easily affordable.