Prolotherapy

Rating

Category: Medical Options

Injury Type: Acute

What is it?

Prolotherapy is an injection treatment to strengthen weakened ligaments and muscular attachment points, and is used most commonly to treat musculoskeletal complaints.

How does it work?

Prolotherapy involves the injection of glucose or another irritating solution into the effected ligaments or tendons, which may lead to local inflammation. The localised inflammation triggers a wound healing cascade, resulting in the laying down of new collagen; the material that ligaments and tendons are comprised of. New collagen shrinks as it matures and this shrinking tightens the structure that was injected, making it stronger and stabilising the surrounding structures.

Is it effective?

There is a case report examining the effect of prolotherapy on pain and function in one person. A benefit was reported, however, the study did not compare prolotherapy with no treatment or placebo (dummy) treatment. Prolotherapy has been mainly researched in relation to low back pain.

Are there any disadvantages?

Prolotherapy is an invasive procedure and can involve some risk. Minor adverse effects may include some bruising, pain, stiffness and swelling in the area after treatment.

Where do you get it?

Many different practitioners may provide prolotherapy including doctors, specialists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, as long as they are appropriately qualified to deliver such treatments.

Recommendations

The use of prolotherapy for whiplash cannot be recommended based on the limited current research evidence. More research is required.

Key References

  • Hooper, RA, Sherman, ST & Frizzell, JB 2006, 'Case report of whiplash related chronic neck pain treated with intraarticular prolotherapy', Journal of Whiplash & Related Disorders, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 23-27.
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