Prolotherapy Pros and Cons


What is Prolotherapy?

Chronic pain is a very common and unspecific symptom in the current society. In fact, at least 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, this means that 3 out of 4 Americans have this condition or have a close family member or a friend who suffers from it.

In some cases, chronic pain is so severe that a person can be very limited to perform his/her daily activities because of this symptom. This is the main reason why experts in chronic pain have developed new therapies to treat this condition.

Prolotherapy, also called proliferation therapy, is a chronic pain treatment which consists in applying an injection of an irritant solution, such as dextrose, in the affected area. This irritant solution increases the blood flow and produces the inflammation of the injected area, which attracts and activates the immune system cells and, in consequence, triggers the healing process.

The experts in Prolotherapy say that the body is able to cure itself when it is properly stimulated, so when the doctor injects the irritant solution into the affected area, the body's regenerative mechanisms repair the affected tissues.

Prolotherapy is considered the result of a great advance in modern medicine by its combination with technology.

What are the Pros of Prolotherapy Injections?

The main pro of prolotherapy injections is the fact that this treatment is very natural. Although the doctor must inject an irritating substance, it is not harmful to the body and, conversely, it stimuli the production of collagen and cartilage by the human cells. These natural collagen and cartilage fibers trigger the cells of the immune system with a regeneration capability to heal the affected tissues.

Likewise, the experts say that another pro of prolotherapy injections is the fact that this is very easy to perform. Likewise, it is an outpatient procedure, so the patient can undergo the procedure and return to his/her daily activities needing minimal cares.

Another important pro of prolotherapy injections is the fact that this kind of therapy can be used to treat many types of diseases and conditions, including hands and feet pain, back pain (especially lower back pain, whiplash and sciatica), joint pain (especially knee, ankle and shoulder pain), leg pain, hip pain, repairing injuries from aging or sports and even migraine attacks (moderate and severe).

The experts also say that one of the main pros of prolotherapy is the fact that it does not only help to relieve pain, but it also strengthens and restores the tissues in and around the areas where the injections are applied, which produces a long-term relief of pain. This benefit is especially important in the treatment of joint's chronic pain.

By increasing the amount of collagen in the body, prolotherapy injections also improves the strength of the skeletal structure, which prevents the development of other diseases. Likewise, although the main benefits of prolotherapy are observed in the injected area, the cells of the entire body obtain the benefits of this regenerative therapy.

Prolotherapy has been proved and used by experts in chronic pain worldwide and they say that it really helps to minimize and even eradicate pain with 80 to 90% of success rate. This procedure must be differentiated from Botox injections, trigger point injections, sacroiliac joint injections and epidural steroid injections, which are similar procedures commonly used to treat chronic pain.

What are the Cons of Prolotherapy Injections?

One con of prolotherapy injections is the fact that although it is very effective, the patient may need to undergo between 2 and 30 sessions to notice the effects and experience a complete pain relieve. Each session must be performed within 2 or 3 weeks of difference with the previous one, so the treatment can result very long to certain people.

Likewise, although this is a pretty safe procedure and it is very easy to perform, it is an invasive procedure, so it is not exempt from risks. The main side effect is a temporary sensation of pain both during and immediately after the procedure, and it can remain for some hours. The doctor will use local anesthetics to avoid severe pain, but patients who are sensitive to pain may feel discomfort.

The patient can also experience other side effects like irritation, inflammation, infection of the injected area, swelling, bruising, among others. Likewise, some patients have experienced a severe side effect which is a mild to moderate stroke after the procedure. It is very rare, but it can severely affect the patient's quality of life. The doctor will determine if the patient has certain risk factors in order to take the appropriate preventive measures to avoid this side effect.

It is also important to highlight that even when this procedure is very effective for most people (80 to 90 percent of success rate), as every person is different, in some cases the patient does not experience the improvement that they expect. This situation is very infrequent, but it can happen.

As prolotherapy injections are a relatively new procedure, not all the possible side effects and complications are established, so only an expert in the area can determine if it is a good option of treatment for each patient according to his/her particular needs and general health conditions.

In conclusion, although prolotherapy has pros and cons, as all the treatments, it is an excellent option for treating chronic pain and help patients who are tired of only experiencing a temporary pain relief. However, you must remember that only a qualified doctor can help you to determine if prolotherapy injections are a good option for you.

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Dr. Curt Collins