What is prolotherapy?

The word “prolo” is short for proliferation, and is derived from the Latin word Proli which means to regenerate.  Regenerate what?  New tissue (ie: ligament and cartilage tissues) by stimulating the bodies own healing potential with the use of a dextrose (sugar) solution.

The injection causes a localized inflammatory reaction, which increases the blood supply to the area, which stimulates and promotes the body’s natural healing response.  The inflammatory response after the injection can be fairly painful for a period of several days.   The healing response consists of stimulating certain cells (macrophages, fibroblasts, and growth factors) to produce new collagen (a protein found in ligament & cartilage tissue) at the same time it helps inhibit the cells destructive factors.


It is not surgery.  It is not cortisone.   It can be safely repeated without limits until the painful condition is resolved (cortisone injections have a limited number).  It has a reasonable rate of success (on average ¾ of patients have a beneficial response).  Most conditions on average will respond in 3-6 treatments (some may require less and others more).


It is an injection.  A short-term inflammatory and sometimes painful response will occur, usually less than 4 days (but can sometimes be as long as 10 days).  The therapy tends to be less effective in smokers and diabetic patients.

What conditions can it be used for?

  • Joint injuries (shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, ankle)
  • Chronic low back pain and spine pain
  • Degenerative and osteoarthritic joint problems
  • Ligament and tendon problems (ie: tennis elbow, patellar tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, etc.)
  • Other musculoskeletal conditions not listed above may also be treated (discuss with your doctor)

What should I expect?

Moderate pain and a pronounced swelling (inflammatory response) at the site of the injection within 1-2 days, lasting several days (usually 4-5 days), and resolves after 10 days.  Tylenol or prescribed pain medication from your physician maybe required.

Icing the area for a maximum of 10 minutes at a time, and not more than 3 times an hour may help in pain control (beyond 10 min of icing will result in an anti-inflammatory response, which is the opposite of what the injection is trying to accomplish).

Response to the therapy is determined by improvement in pain and/or function.  The therapy is coordinated with a good strength and conditioning program by your physical therapist.  Repeat therapy is usually done at 4 week intervals if necessary.

Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office.  We will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.  (503) 691-2000