Prolotherapy, also called proliferation therapy is an injection-based treatment used in chronic musculoskeletal conditions. It has been characterized as a branch of regenerative medicine.
An Innovative Therapy for Chronic Pain
Prolotherapy is a method of injection treatment designed to stimulate healing. Various irritant solutions are injected into the ligaments, tendons, and joins to encourage repair, of damaged tissue.
Works for a Wide Variety of Conditions
Prolotherapy has been successfully treating patients with arthritis, rotator cuff problems, recurrent knee pain, whiplash injuries, sciatic pain, and other conditions.
Prolotherapy is a nonsurgical treatment which stimulates healing. Prolotherapy is also known as nonsurgical ligament and tendon reconstruction, or regenerative injection therapy. Prolotherapy works by getting the body to use its own natural healing mechanisms to repair injured and painful joint areas and musculoskeletal tissue.
Prolotherapy, developed 40 years ago by George S. Hackett, MD, a surgeon from Canton, Ohio, is based on the premise that much musculoskeletal pain is due to weakness of the ligaments and tendons.
Ligaments and tendons are tough, fibrous bands of tissue that connect bone to bone, or bone to muscle. They are the stabilizers of the musculoskeletal system. As long as they are strong and taut, they keep bones, joints and muscles in place and allow for pain-free, smooth movement.
When the joints or ligaments become injured, weak, or lax, these other structures become unstable and move out of position.
The areas where the ligaments attach to the bones, called the fibro-osseous junctions, are rich in nerve endings, so the resulting misalignment can be quite painful and pain signals may be transmitted to nearby areas.
Nerves and blood vessels may be compressed or pinched, and cartilage may be damaged.
Hackett describes prolotherapy as “strengthening the weld of disabled ligaments and tendons to bone by stimulating the production of new bone and fibrous tissue cells.”
This is not a new concept. Hippocrates reportedly inserted hot needles into the shoulder joint capsules of javelin throwers in Sparta to treat chronic dislocation.
A precursor to prolotherapy, scar therapy or sclerotherapy (not to be confused with an unrelated treatment of the same name for varicose veins) has been used to treat damaged tendons since the 1930s.
Dr. Hackett simply refined and renamed the procedure. This form of treatment is also referred to as “proliferant injection therapy”. He defines it as ”the rehabilitation of an incompetent structure by the generation of new cellular tissue”.
The Prefix “prolo” refers to “proliferate”.
Benefits Are Often Permanent
Prolotherapy is an effective treatment for all joints and ligaments and all age patients. It corrects by strengthening and stabilizing the ligaments and tendons. A solution is injected into the affected ligament, tendon, and/or joint capsule, causing inflammation. As the structures heal, they regain strength and stability. Pain goes away, and because the underlying problem has been corrected, it stays away. No corticosteroids are used.