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Prolotherapy, also called proliferation therapy or regenerative injection therapy is a treatment of tissue with the injection of an irritant solution into a joint space, weakened ligament, or tendon insertion to relieve pain.Prolotherapy may help in the following conditions: low back pain, tendinitis and osteoarthritis. The evidence for these uses, however, is tentative. There is also little good evidence for sports related injuries.
Low back pain
A 2007 Cochrane review of prolotherapy in adults with chronic low-back pain found unclear evidence of effect. A 2009 review came to the same conclusions for subacute low back pain. There was tentative evidence of benefit when used with other low back pain treatments.
A 2009 systematic review of the efficacy in the treatment of lateral epicondylosis concluded that these therapies may benefit people with lateral epicondylosis, but the evidence was limited. A 2010 systematic review concluded moderate evidence exists to support the use of prolotherapy injections in the management of pain in lateral epicondyalgia and that prolotherapy was no more effective than eccentric exercise in the treatment of Achilles tendinopathy.
In 2012, a systematic review studying various injection therapies found that prolotherapy and hyaluronic acid injection therapies were more effective than placebo when treating lateral epicondylosis. Of the studies evaluated, one of ten glucocorticoid trials, one of five trials for autologous blood injection or platelet-rich plasma, one trial of polidocanol, and one trial of prolotherapy met the criteria for low risk of bias. The authors noted that few of the reviewed trials met the criteria for low risk of bias.
There is tentative evidence that prolotherapy may be useful in osteoarthritis.
Contraindications for patients to receive prolotherapy injections may include:
Patient on anticoagulant medication
Known allergy to prolotherapy agent
Acute infections such as cellulitis
Relative contraindications include:
Acute gouty arthritis
Patients receiving prolotherapy injections have reported generally mild side effects including: mild pain and irritation at the injection site (often within 72 hours of the injection), numbness at the injection site, or mild bleeding. Pain from prolotherapy injections is temporary and is often treated with acetaminophen or in rare cases opioid medications; NSAIDs are not usually recommended, but are occasionally used in patients with pain refractory to other methods of pain control. Theoretical adverse events of prolotherapy injection include lightheadedness, allergic reactions to the agent used, bruising, infection, or nerve damage. However, allergic reactions to sodium morrhuate are rare. Rare cases of back pain, neck pain, spinal cord irritation, pneumothorax, and disc injury have been reported at a rate comparable to that of other spinal injection procedures.
Prolotherapy involves the injection of an irritant solution into a joint space, weakened ligament, or tendon insertion to relieve pain. Most commonly, hyperosmolar dextrose (a sugar) is the solution used; glycerine, lidocaine (a commonly used local anesthetic), phenol, and sodium morrhuate (a derivative of cod liver oil extract) are other commonly used agents. The injection is administered at joints or at tendons where they connect to bone.
Prolotherapy treatment sessions are generally given every two to six weeks for several months in a series ranging from 3 to 6 or more treatments. Many patients receive treatment at less frequent intervals until treatments are rarely required, if at all.
The term originated with George S. Hackett, M.D. in 1956, as “The rehabilitation of an incompetent structure by the generation of new cellular tissue”. He “applied the term prolotherapy from the word “proli’” (Latin) meaning offspring; “proliferate” -to produce new cells in rapid succession. Although an erroneous term (sclerotherapy) was utilized by some in the past to describe this treatment, it is now clear that prolotherapy does not cause scarring. The mechanism of prolotherapy requires further clarification.
Major medical insurance policies view prolotherapy as an investigational or experimental therapy with an inconclusive evidence base. Consequently, they currently do not provide coverage for prolotherapy procedures. Medicare reviewers in 1999 determined at that time that practitioners had not provided “any scientific evidence on which to base a [different] coverage decision,” and so retained Medicare’s current coverage policy to not cover prolotherapy injections for chronic low back pain, but expressed willingness to reconsider if presented with results of “further studies on the benefits of prolotherapy
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WeHeal is very grateful to our valued sources of information which include Wikipedia, WebMD, ClinicalTrials.gov, Cancer.gov, Infoplease, and the US CDC (Center for Disease Control).