Q. What is prolotherapy?
A. Prolotherapy is the short form for proliferation therapy, an injection-based therapy that uses a high dose of glucose or dextrose which acts as an irritant to the body. That irritant acts as a signal for your immune system to restart the healing process. The therapy has been around since the 1950’s but only lately is it becoming widely used for sports injuries and arthritis.
Q. Who do you see in your clinic?
A. I have two groups I treat. The older demographic dealing with arthritis and I use prolotherapy for shoulder, hip, and knee pain. Then I have my athletic group which typically have patella tendinopathy issues as well as toe, ankle, and heel injuries.
Q. What typical running injuries can benefit from it?
A. Running injuries and prolotherapy are a great match. Research has shown that prolotherapy is effective for conditions such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinopathy. I see a lot of patella femoral pain syndrome – a catch all term that covers jumpers knee and runners knee, as well as chronic ankle and knee sprains.
Q. Who can administer prolotherapy?
A. You need to be trained in regenerative injection therapy and prolotherapy. There are several specialists in the country, and you don’t need a referral from your MD.
Q. How many appointments are needed and are there any side effects?
A. It depends on the injury but generally two to four injections spaced three weeks apart over three months. The injection does induce inflammation which is how it works. Sometimes the second day you may have an ache or pain sensation, but by the fourth day it settles down and moves from the inflammatory stage to the remodelling of the collagen stage.
Q. What is the treatment success rate?
A. I see an 80 per cent response rate. For prolotherapy to be effective you need to follow up with smart physical therapy program. After every injection I prescribe some phased progressive exercises and then when the treatment is completed, I give them a maintenance plan which consists of some pre-hab exercises. If stress is put on that same joint or tendon without changing the activity’s mechanics, then a re-injury can occur. So, to avoid this it is important to be diligent with the exercises.
Q. Is there anything else I can do during treatment to help recovery?
A. There is a lot of guidance I can offer but when you think of prolotherapy it produces a stimulus for the body and the body’s response is the medicine which is doing the healing. The exercises I give them complement the treatment and patients have to be able to do these before moving on to further treatment.