ALBUQUERQUE, N.M — At one time in your life, you may experience body pains. It may be due to a habit, lifestyle, illness, or accident. Examples are low back pain, joint injury, or arthritis.

The body naturally tries to repair itself. But to help heal joints and tissues, there’s regenerative injection therapy (RIT). It’s also called proliferative therapy, prolotherapy joint injections, or prolo. 

This blog tells you about how prolotherapy works:

  • What is prolotherapy? 
  • How does prolotherapy work? 
  • Are prolotherapy joint injections and steroid injections the same?
  • Are joint injections effective?
  • Are joint injections safe?
  • What are the contraindications of prolotherapy?
  • What are the potential side effects of prolotherapy?
  • What is Prolozone™?
  • What can you expect from prolotherapy?
  • Where is prolotherapy near me? 

What is prolotherapy? 

RIT has different types. These are stem cells, platelet-rich plasma, and prolotherapy. Prolo is considered a complementary and alternative medical modality. It’s used for chronic muscle and skeletal pain. 

Medical practitioners have been using it for about a century. Prolo is a natural way of reducing pain and repairing the body’s tissues. It aids the body in healing itself. 

Its effect is permanent, unlike pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Thus, prolo can be an alternative to pain medications and surgery.

A medical practitioner injects saline or dextrose solution into a joint or area of concern. This prolotherapy joint injection can be used for specific conditions:

  • Arthritis or joint pain
  • Ligament, tendon, and muscle problems
  • Strains and sprains
  • Osgood-Schlatter Disease (OSD)

How does prolotherapy work? 

Its exact mechanism of action is not known. But prolo works for joint pain management and tissue regeneration. 

Referred to as “proliferants,” prolotherapy joint injections contain saline or dextrose (sugar-water solution). They irritate the target problem area. But, it’s all good as it stimulates an inflammatory or healing response. As a result, your body grows new tissue. 

An example is your injured ligament. As the injected solution takes effect, your ligament starts to heal and strengthen. In time, your joints become stable, and your pain stops.

These therapeutic injections help reduce your pain and ease your stiffness. In addition, it improves your joint function and mobility. It leads to the strengthening of your ligaments and other tissues. 

Healing of damaged tissue takes about 6-8 weeks. It continues 6 to 12 months later. For best results, a regenerative joint injection takes several shots per session. Sessions last about three to six months.

Are prolotherapy joint injections and steroid injections the same?

Prolo is a nonsteroidal joint injection. It reduces inflammation and manages joint pain like steroid injections. However, a clinical study shows dextrose prolo as superior to corticosteroid or steroid injections. 

Study participants had chronic lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow. It’s a condition where the tendons of the hand are overused. Examples include repetitive gripping or wrist extending.

Prolo and steroid injections resulted in the effective short-term treatment of chronic lateral epicondylitis. But dextrose prolo performed better in the long term. 

Moreover, prolonged use of steroid injections can cause unwanted side effects. It includes a weakened immune system and breakdown of joints. In contrast, prolo doesn’t increase the risk of cartilage and bone injury.

Finally, corticosteroids cause high blood pressure and blood sugar. Prolonged use can also result in weight gain.

Are joint injections effective?

Researchers investigated the efficacy of prolo for pain relief over the years. However, the American College of Rheumatology warns people about RIT/prolo. The Arthritis Foundation said more studies should be conducted on sugar-water injection for osteoarthritis. 

At the same time, The American Pain Society also cautions people from getting regenerative injections for chronic low back pain. Yet, the American Academy for Orthopedic Medicine recommends it for some cases of low back pain. 

There may be conflicting recommendations from experts, yet studies yield promising conclusions. Here are some of the benefits of prolo based on studies:

  • Osteoarthritis 

Prolotherapy works for knee osteoarthritis based on studies. For example, one study investigated the effects of saline and dextrose prolotherapy. Ninety participants with knee osteoarthritis received injections from one to 17 weeks. 

After 52 weeks, the participants said their knee pain, function, and stiffness improved. The effects were better for participants injected with dextrose.

A similar study looked into the efficacy of dextrose prolotherapy. Twenty-four women with knee osteoarthritis received three joint injections. The interval was every four weeks. By the 24th week, the results reveal improvement in pain and mobility.  

  • Osgood-Schlatter Disease (OSD) 

OSD is common among growing adolescents who are active in sports. It’s characterized by swelling and pain below the knee cap.  It gets worse while running, jumping, or playing soccer or basketball. 

A study shows dextrose injections to be effective and safe for athletic teens with OSD.

  • Damaged ligament

Dextrose prolotherapy also works for fingers and spinal/pelvic pains due to damaged ligaments. It’s supported by experimental studies that found prolotherapy can stimulate collagen fiber growth. Collagen production strengthens ligaments.

  • Overuse tendinopathy

Tendinopathy or tendinosis occurs when collagen in the tendons wears out. It becomes overuse tendinopathy when the tendons are continuously strained over time. 

It causes tears in the tendon. It then leads to pain with problems in flexibility and motion. Tendinopathy is a chronic condition like osteoarthritis. A study shows that prolotherapy may improve mild to moderate cases of tendinopathy. However, more studies need to support this claim.

  • Low back pain with a nonspecific and specific cause

A large study investigated 110 participants with chronic nonspecific low-back pain of at least 14 years. The researchers divided them into groups of four. 

Some received saline injections, while others got dextrose. Then, the groups either participated in a regular activity or physical therapy. 

The study reveals a decrease in pain and disability of the affected area by the 12th month. It was regardless of the prolotherapy solution or the exercise that came with it.

Further, the latest 2021 review supports earlier findings on prolotherapy for chronic low back pain. It included 12 articles from various databases. The review reveals prolotherapy as effective management for chronic low back pain. 

It was effective where other modalities failed. However, the positive results were also attributed to co-interventions such as exercise or physical therapy.  

Are joint injections safe?

Increasing evidence suggests prolotherapy injections are generally safe when done by a medical practitioner. Researchers, though, need to conduct more trials to develop standard measurements, preparation, and administration.

It may be cost-effective for tissue regrowth and pain management. But, like other injection therapies, there are a few contradictions and possible side effects.

What are the contraindications of prolotherapy joint injections?

Prolo is not for everyone. You won’t be allowed to undergo injection therapy if you have specific pre-existing conditions. These conditions coupled with regenerative joint injection may cause harm.

Prolo contraindications are a few:

  • Cellulitis
  • Local abscess
  • Acute arthritis
  • Acute fracture

What are the potential side effects of prolotherapy?

Have you at one time taken an injection medication or vaccine? The most common potential side effect of prolo is similar. Some people report localizing numbness or pain at the injection site. Although, it doesn’t last long.

A post-injection flare-up may occur after 72 hours, but it’s rare. Besides, flare-ups are also self-limiting and can be treated with an OTC pain reliever.

Other possible adverse events may include any of the following:

  • Bruising or swelling
  • Slight bleeding
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Ligament, tendon, or nerve damage
  • Allergic reaction
  • Infection

However, a study reported no severe side effects of prolo for some joint problems.

What is Prolozone™?

What comes to mind when you hear the word “ozone”? 

Ozone is a type of gas. It’s fresh, pure air or oxygen with an additional molecule. Injections don’t usually contain ozone, but it’s an added benefit. Combined with neural therapy and RIT/prolo, you get Prolozone™! 

According to the Journal of Prolotherapy, Prolozone™ contains procaine, anti-inflammatory drugs, vitamins, minerals, proliferatives, and ozone. 

This potent substance is injected into a painful area of an injured or degenerated joint. The results are remarkable. Ozone injections help restore oxygen in the tissue of the injected site. 

As a result, pain is immediately decreased by 50-80%. In addition, the damaged tissue heals and functions normally again. Pain permanently disappears as degenerated tissue regrows. 

What can you expect from prolotherapy?

Before you start your prolotherapy joint injections, you have to know about the procedure and risks involved. Only when you’ve given your consent can you proceed with it.

Getting a prolo shot hurts less than immunizations. Most people tolerate it well. 

A medical practitioner applies local anesthesia or topical cream to the injection site. The prolo injection follows it. 

You receive about three or more shots every month. And you undergo about 3-12 sessions, as needed. 

There’s minimal pain or soreness once you’ve been injected. It lasts for about a week. After that, pain is relative and depends on every person. So, medical practitioners may prescribe your acetaminophen. 

Although, refrain from taking NSAIDs for at least seven days. It may interfere with the intended regenerative action. Applying ice and a warm compress can be more helpful in relieving the pain.

Other people return to their daily routines after receiving their regenerative joint injection. But avoid swimming or soaking in the bathtub for too long. These activities may cause an infection at the injection site.

Some people experience more severe pain after a day or two. It wanes on the third to fourth day.

Light stretching exercises after the third day are allowed. However, you should take caution since it’s possible to injure the treated tissue. 

Summary

Athletes and physically active people are prone to injuries. Like them, you can experience joint injuries caused by daily activities and illnesses. Sometimes, your joint injuries last for months. Medical practitioners use various modalities for chronic joint injuries.

Some experts suggest further studies to validate the efficacy of prolotherapy joint injections. However, a growing body of evidence continues to support its use. The benefits include ease of joint pain and tissue repair.

Where is prolotherapy near me? 

The Injection and Infusion offers prolotherapy joint injections near you. It’s located in downtown Albuquerque at 8400 Osuna Road NE, Suite 5C.

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