Prolotherapy is an injection procedure used to treat connective tissue injuries of the musculoskeletal system that have not healed by either rest or other nonsurgical therapies in order to relieve pain. The injections promote a healing response in small tears and weakened tissue with the goal of alleviating pain and improving function. Prolotherapy is also referred to as sclerosant therapy, sclerotherapy, regenerative injection therapy, "proliferative" injection therapy, and nonsurgical ligament reconstruction.
The idea is that pain is related to activation of pain receptors in tendon or ligament tissues which are sensitive to stretching, pressure, etc. It is thought that one cause of back pain for example is from ligamentous laxity. With the prolotherapy procedure, the substance injected is a mild irritant solution (dextrose, phenol, glycerin, or sodium morrhuate, a purified derivative of cod liver oil) that causes an inflammatory response which stimulates the healing process. This in turn causes "proliferation" of new cells like fibroblasts and protein. A local anesthetic is used so there is minimal discomfort with the injections. The goal is strengthening the torn or injured soft tissue and reducing the pain.
Prolotherapy involves a series of injections depending on the pain condition and the individual being treated. The prolotherapy injection series may cover 3 to 6 months with injections at 2 to 3 week intervals. Most patients require about 4 to 6 prolotherapy treatments to restore function and relieve pain.
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