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Will Prolotherapy Help Sports Related Injury?

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 18 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
Prolotherapy Joint Musculoskeletal Pain


I suffer tendon problems from my left ankle/knee/hip and shoulder which resulted from sport related injuries over the past 40 years. Do you think prolotherapy would remedy some or all of these problems? If so, how do I choose a bona fide treatment centre?

(M.J, 5 July 2009)


Prolotherapy is a technique that is not very well known - that has good results for some people. It is largely seen as a natural and non-invasive technique that helps the body heal itself. People often try it when anti-inflammatory drugs have failed, and before they resort to something more invasive such as joint replacement or surgery.

The world “prolo” is short for proliferation. That's because when this therapy works, it can cause a proliferation of the new tissue, strengthening both ligaments and tendons. It is used for a variety of musculoskeletal pains, including conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, and to treat sports injuries, for people like yourself.

Women whose ligaments are stretched during pregnancy and people who have injury to the body's soft tissue due to car accidents or overuse can also benefit. These soft tissues, or connective tissues, connect tendons, ligaments, joints and muscles to the bone, and when they become soft the result is pain.

Prolotherapy, also known a “proliferative injection therapy”, is fairly straightforward: it involves a treatment using injections of an anti-active irritant (a sugar-type solution) into areas of the body where the ligament tissue has weakened and therefore is causing often chronic pain.

The idea is that once inflammation occurs the body will try to heal itself, resulting in the production of more collagen. As this natural material shrinks, the ligament itself will tighten and become stronger and more durable.

It is said that this method was used by Hippocrates, who injected javelin and discus throwers who suffered from muscle and joint pain. Today it is still considered a controversial treatment, one which is used by some medical professionals and not by others. One reason for this is because little research has been carried out on it so far.

Saying that, doctors who do prescribe it say a regular course of prolotherapy – from three to six sessions usually roughly once a week – is successful in treating musculoskeletal pain in about 80 – 90 percent of all patients. Those with other conditions, such as back pain, witnessed a lower success rate. Despite that, it is still largely considered an experimental therapy,

If you are interested in trying prolotherapy, your best bet would be to contact BIMM (www.bimm.org.uk). This organisation is an amalgamation of the British Association of Manipulative Medicine and the Institute of Orthopaedic Medicine, and it has a list of prolotherapy practitioners on its website. You should ask your own GP about prolotherapy first, and if you find someone you like, make sure you check their accreditations and certifications beforehand. Good luck!

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