How Does Prolotherapy Work?

Your body has remarkable recuperative powers, a characteristic that’s the focus of the field of regenerative medicine. Instead of using drugs or artificial methods to attempt to cure a condition, regenerative techniques seek to help bolster your body’s own natural healing systems. Bone marrow transplants are perhaps the most successful example.

Prolotherapy, short for proliferative therapy, targets damage to connective tissue in joints to help stimulate new collagen development, a key factor in the healing process of destabilized (injured) joints. Rather than a single treatment, prolotherapy uses a range of typically natural substances to stimulate and augment healing.

As a regenerative medicine specialist, Dr. Carolyn Kochert recommends prolotherapy to her patients who might benefit from it. While not suitable for everyone, prolotherapy provides some patients with pain relief and faster healing.

The theory behind prolotherapy

Essentially, prolotherapy tricks your body into healing overdrive. A localized injection,  given near the site of a soft tissue injury, can redouble the body’s repair efforts by inducing a secondary inflammatory response. This reaction to the injected solution stimulates production of additional ligament or tendon fibers, speeding the pace at which normal repairs occur. Even injuries of many years duration can repair once the body is “reminded” of the damaged areas. The prolotherapy may or may not contribute resources to the healing process, depending on the solutions injected.

Components of prolotherapy injections

The primary active ingredient in a prolotherapy injection is the irritant since it provides the “irritation” that’s thought to trigger the inflammatory response. Despite the ominous name, the irritant is often simply a dextrose (sugar) solution, like those administered intravenously to deliver medications or nourishment, along with fluids, into the bloodstream.

Local anesthetics may also be part of the prolotherapy solution. These can help reduce discomfort from the injury as well as from the injection itself. Pain from the injection depends on the treated joint. There can be a temporary increase in pain, along with swelling and stiffness. This pain tends to pass quickly.

Technically, other regenerative medicine techniques, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy, qualify as prolotherapy techniques because they’re administered in the same way. However, common practice usually refers to these by their descriptive names.

Treatment targets

Back pain is perhaps the most common prolotherapy treatment target. However, it’s appropriate for other joints too, including shoulders, hips, and knees, as well as any other joint, tendon, or ligament. Prolotherapy may prove effective at reducing pain for people with chronic conditions. Improving the healing response substantially repairs damage from the condition itself, decreasing or eliminating pain symptoms and avoiding the need for surgery.

What to expect from prolotherapy

When Dr. Kochert recommends prolotherapy for you, she’ll ask you to discontinue anti-inflammatory use, including over-the-counter pain medications. Healing response is dependent on the health of the patient, so lifestyles changes such as avoiding alcohol, cigarette cessation, and improving nutrition will result in better outcomes. The treatment itself typically includes a series of injections, with the number depending on the treatment area. Usually, prolotherapy consists of four to six treatments at intervals of approximately one month. 

Dr. Kochert and the team at Dr. Kochert Pain & Health are ready to assess you for prolotherapy treatment. You can call the office in Lafayette, Indiana, at 765-274-0723 or use the “request appointment” tool on the website to schedule your consultation today.