Prolotherapy is a safe, effective injection treatment which provides increased strength in joints, ligaments and tendons by making new connective tissue. It can eliminate even chronic longstanding back, neck and joint pain. The solution used is usually 20% glucose or less, mixed with a local anaesthetic called lignocaine. It was developed by a USA surgeon, Dr George Hackett in the 1940s and has been refined and researched by many other doctors since then.

If strained ligaments fail to heal properly, injections of strong glucose can be used to restart the healing cascade. Mobility increases because stiffness is often due to protective muscle spasm, and once the pain from the ligaments is relieved the muscles relax.

Tendinopathy: When tendons are overused they become painful and occasionally fail to heal. The swollen or torn tissue can be seen on ultrasound. The usual treatment for tendinopathy in knees, Achilles tendon and elbows is rest, then very slow increase in exercise. This can take months or years. The glucose in the prolotherapy solution allows the healing to occur much more quickly. Best results occur when special exercises are performed as well.

Neuropathic pain is where the pain is due to the nerve itself. The pain is often sharp, burning and occurs in lines that are very tender to touch. A weak glucose solution allows healing in the nerve itself and the tissues it supplies. This new technique was developed by Dr John Lyftogt in NZ and is called Neural Prolotherapy or Perineural Injection therapy. It is done with very fine short needles as the nerves are cutaneous nerves, close to the skin.

Osteoarthritis: If its ligaments are strained and loose, the joint slips and slides out of its track, and the cartilage becomes worn causing osteoarthritis. Prolotherapy for worn joints (knees, hips, fingers and shoulders) involves treatment of the ligaments around the joint and usually injection into the joint, as it also stimulates regrowth of cartilage. This has been seen on xray in some knees, in Dr Dean Reeves research on prolotherapy in knee osteoarthritis.

The solution is injected to where the pain is coming from. Usually many different points are injected. The local anaesthetic relieves pain for a short time. This can be useful diagnostically; especially if there has been some doubt where the pain is coming from. Then inflammation begins – and pain may occur and may last up to 2 days. Pain relief is used if necessary.

Research has shown that this treatment is significantly more effective for low back pain than local anaesthetic or cortisone. An Australian study of very chronic back pain found that 20% became free of pain and over 40% had at least 50% reduction in pain. Many more reports of success have been published for other joints – knees, whiplash neck, fibromyalgia, jaw joint, pubic symphysis, fingers and thumb joints.