What is Prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy is also known as “proliferation therapy,” “regenerative injection therapy,” or “proliferative injection therapy”. It involves injecting an otherwise non-pharmacological and non-active irritant solution into the body, generally in the region of tendons or ligaments for the purpose of strengthening weakened connective tissue and alleviating musculoskeletal pain.

Prolotherapy is hypothesized to reinitiate the inflammatory process that deposits new additional fibers thereby repairing lax tendons or ligaments and to possibly promote the release of local growth factors.

Some Prolotherapists use mild chemical irritants, such as phenol, sodium morrhuate, guaiacol or tannic acid, to trigger the healing process. These substances attach themselves to the walls of the cells wherever they are injected and cause the irritation. The theory is that this stimulates the body’s reactive healing process. The injections can cause extreme pain and, for this reason, many patients are given prescription pain killers. Sometimes the constant pain from therapy causes excessive use of pain pills. In Maine, April 12, 2012, a 59-yo woman became addicted to methadone during her many prolotherapy treatments. She developed brain damage from over-presribed methadone for the pain. The patient sued the M.D. and won an award of 2 million.

Some Prolotherapists use the dramatic sounding “osmotic shock agents,” which are actually simple compounds like dextrose and glycerine. These ingredients are the most commonly used in the arsenal of proliferants. They work by causing cells to lose water, leading to cellular dehydration and then inflammation which forces the body’s natural defenses to investigate why the cells have been damaged. The body then begins to try to heal the area and repair the tissue.

The specific combinations of chemicals and substances used are endless and varied just like the “schools” of Prolotherapy” which use them. Some practitioners add co-factors like manganese, zinc , or a combination of glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate which they believe will aid in the repair of arthritic joints. Many other M.D.’s have their own preference for other co-factors which they believe will enhance the compounds they are used with. Their philosophy here is to tear down tissue, dehydrate it, inflame it and shock it so the body can turn around and repair this damage, fix and strengthen it. This is their way to cure the problem and stabilize the joint.

One of many cautions to Prolotherapy is that the man-made interference to the ligaments may cause permanent damage. In the lawsuit LEECH v. BRALLIAR, M.D., regarding this therapy, the Prolotherapist M.D. (Defendant) used a solution for his injections which varied in strength with sclerosing material. The result was scarring and fibrosing coupled with sclerosing of the soft tissue of the neck and back which became permanent in nature. As a result of this type of therapy, the conditon lead to severe and intractable pain to plaintiff. Further, the injections themselves were very painful. As a result of the pain resulting from the injections and scar tissue in plaintiff’s back and neck, the plaintif experienced mental breakdowns.

As a result of this continuing pain and stress, the plaintiff developed gastro-intestinal complaints; including peptic ulcers. Such gastro-intestinal complaints were not present before plaintiff’s treatment by the defendant, but were caused by the pain, tension, stress, and medication concomitant with defendant’s use of prolotherapy upon the plaintiff.

Prolotherapy is nothing new. It was practiced in the 1950’s and has returned again in 2002 to be touted as a miracle cure for arthritis pain. Unfortunately, the propaganda from doctors has saturated the internet and the search engines because of the high profits to be made. If you are considering this therapy, be very careful.

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