What is Prolotherapy Treatment for Chronic Back Pain?

In prolotherapy treatment, often used for chronic back pain, a substance is injected using a slender needle next to the site where soft tissue (ligament, tendon, muscle, fascia, joint capsule) is injured or has torn away from the bone.

The substance used in the prolotherapy injection is a natural irritant agent. Examples include:

  • Sugar (dextrose or glucose) alone or in combination with glycerin and phenol
  • Sodium morrhuate (a purified derivative of cod liver oil)

During prolotherapy treatments for chronic back pain or other disorders, the agent is typically used with a local anesthetic (lidocaine, procaine, or marcaine).

Prolotherapy involves a series of injections, reportedly ranging from 3 to 30 (average 4 to 10), depending on the back condition and the individual being treated. The prolotherapy injection series may cover 3 to 6 months with injections at 2 to 3 week intervals.


Preparing for Prolotherapy

Most reports suggest physicians recommending prolotherapy provide substantial counseling for their patients to prepare them for both the procedure and the side effects.

Recovery after Having Prolotherapy

To counteract the painful, swollen injection site experienced by most patients for 2-3 days following the procedure, physicians may recommend:

  • Take acetaminophen or hydrocodone bitartrate plus acetaminophen for pain, but not aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications which would inhibit the healing response

  • Apply ice to the area 3-5 times a day for 20 minutes each as needed
  • Do moderate exercise such as walking but avoid strenuous exercise or work with heavy lifting
  • Follow-up the prolotherapy injections with a good physical therapy program