What is Prolotherapy

Athena Mavromati, MD, Anesthesiologist, 25 Dec 2010

Prolotherapy is one of the treatments that I use and is very efficient for countering acute as well as chronic pain. It belongs to the interventional techniques that I use in the Pain Clinic. It has very good results when applied to patients that have musculoskeletal system conditions of either traumatic or degenerative cause. The treatment is performed through injections of inactive pharmaceutical substance in ligaments and tendons in order to support them and consequently relief the patient from pain.

The term prolotherapy emanates from the English term proliferation therapy that means multiplicative treatment. The method has been shaped in its current form mainly by Hackett and Hemwall. It has been applied since 2005 from the doctors of Mayo Clinic, who characteristically report that “… contrary to the injections of cortisone, that offer provisional confort, prolotherapy causes improvement of the tissue activating its rebirth”.

The tendon is an anatomic element with which the muscle is connected to the bone and influences the mobility of the joint. The ligament is the anatomic element that stabilizes the joint. Tendons and ligaments are found everywhere, on the knees, fingers, shoulders, wrists, nape, vertebral column, basin, hip joint, temporomandibular joint etc. They determine the movement and functionality of the body and are often stressed from daily activities. However, these stresses may lead to degenerative alterations. Furthermore, they can be wounded specifically in the points of contact with the bones, because the forces that are applied at these points are maximized. Since there is an injury the immunogenic system of the body is activated in order to restore the damage. Because the tendons and the contacts have limited blood supply, the damage cannot be fixed satisfactorily even in young and healthy individuals. This insufficient healing may lead to stiffness, muscular weakness, destabilisation of joints and pain.

Prolotherapy is the method that strengthens the natural mechanism of self-healing and leads to the complete healing of the wounded or degenerated region. It is performed through the injection of stimulative, non-pharmaceutical active substances directly in the point of damage. The injection causes a local stimulus which activates the natural mechanism of self-healing and leads to the generation of new conjunctive tissue (collagen), that is the structural constitutive of tendons and ligaments. The new collagen surrounds the wounded tissue and thus hardens it. After the treatment, tendons and ligaments have been strengthened with the new tissue and are more robust. In certain cases it is reported that they are hardened 40% more than the corresponding healthy ones. In prolotherapy neither anti-inflammatory, nor cortisone is used. Consequently, there are no side effects because the method functions via means of the natural mechanism of self-healing.

You may also read the following article:
Applications of Prolotherapy (27-02-2011)
Prolotherapy and the pain in the lower back (with or no reflection in leg)