What is prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy is a procedure where a natural irritant is injected into the soft tissue of an injured joint. The irritant kick-starts the body’s healing response.

Prolotherapy is not a surgical treatment. Because of this, it is also known as a regenerative joint injection or non-surgical ligament and tendon reconstruction.

How does it work?

Prolotherapy is an injection that contains a potential irritant, such as a dextrose solution. The irritant is thought to trigger the body’s healing response.

Once activated, the body will start to strengthen and repair damaged ligaments in the joint. The strengthening of the ligaments, over time, helps to stabilize the joint. Once the joint is better supported, the pain can disappear.

Prolotherapy usually requires several shots at the site of the injury or weakened area to be effective. An individual can expect anywhere from 4 to 15 shots per session, and for several sessions to occur over the course of 3 to 6 months.

The injection must be precise so that the irritant is placed at the area or areas requiring ligament repair.

What to expect

Before receiving prolotherapy, a doctor will assess a person with joint or back pain to work out if they are a good candidate for the therapy.

Not all people are suitable for the procedure. People with chronic conditions, for example, may not see any effects from the prolotherapy so a doctor may suggest other alternatives.

During or before an assessment, a doctor will likely examine ultrasound or other imaging results. The images will help them decide if the procedure is feasible, given the location and severity of the injury.

If the person is taking anti-inflammatory medication, this should be stopped 2 to 3 days before the procedure. Continuing to take anti-inflammatory medication may prevent the procedure from working.

On the day of the prolotherapy, it is important that a person eats well. Often, doctors recommend that the person undergoing prolotherapy eats a protein-rich meal.

During the procedure, doctors prepare the person’s skin with rubbing alcohol or another sterilizing solution. They may then apply numbing cream to the skin to reduce discomfort from the injection site.

In extreme cases, where the person is in considerable pain or discomfort, additional sedation may be used.

Once prepared, the doctor will use a long, thin needle to deliver the irritant solution to several different points around the target area in the back or joint. The number of injections used depends on the area or joint affected.


The studies have shown that the strengthened joints will mean the pain is reduced. Also, the improved strength of the joint will help with stability and improve overall movement and function of the back and joints.

Prolotherapy is an all-natural, permanent treatment, as it relies on the body repairing itself to reduce pain.

In contrast, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications only provide temporary relief. Similarly, surgical options do not always work to stabilize a joint fully.


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