Prolotherapy (Ligament Sclerosant Injections)

Ligaments stabilise a person’s joints and help prevent them from moving more than a normal range, providing sufficient flexibility in some directions and restraint in others to allow for a desired level of movement. Occasionally a ligament can be strained or torn, e.g. when a wrist or ankle is sprained. When this happens, the ligament cannot function as it should and becomes unstable, putting abnormal stresses on the joints (or other areas such as spinal discs) and can lead to significant pain.

Which areas can be treated using prolotherapy?

Research has shown that over eighty percent of patients have seen good or excellent results from their prolotherapy treatment, and the use of prolotherapy injections to treat many conditions is growing. Those suffering from common injuries such as whiplash and joint sprains are good candidates for the treatment, but it is also often highly effective for long-term conditions such as degenerative disc disease, tennis elbow and chronic tendonitis. In addition, the latest studies indicate that the treatment can have very beneficial impacts on patients wanting to relieve pain associated with arthritis in a particular joint. The treatment promotes long-term, often permanent pain relief by stimulating the body’s ability to repair the damaged ligaments and joints themselves.

What is involved in prolotherapy treatment?

Prolotherapy works by stimulating a patient’s normal healing mechanisms, which act to develop new tissues in the area affected by injury. A typical treatment will last approximately 30 minutes in total and works by simultaneously killing off localised nerves, thereby eliminating the source of the pain, whilst also ‘proliferating’ or encouraging the body to make new fibres within the ligament structure, so developing and strengthening them. The prolotherapy is administered by local injection into the affected ligaments, tendons or joint capsules and is primarily made up of a dextrose and glycerol solution, alongside some local anaesthetic. Typically, a patient will need this stimulation over a series of approximately three to five injections, and therefore prolotherapy is generally provided as a course of treatments, with each injection around four weeks after the last.

Are there any side effects?

The injections are principally the same as having been administered in the treatment of varicose veins for years and are therefore known to be safe to use. Following the treatment, as the injections are working to encourage the growth of new cells so supporting the damaged tissues, there may be some localised swelling, inflammation and stiffness. This is expected to last no more than 2-3 days following treatment and can be managed through the use of paracetamol. Any stiffness and swelling will subside as the new cells begin to strengthen the ligament.
Complications of prolotherapy are extremely rare and are generally limited to the risk of infection, which occurs in approximately 1 in 17,000 patients. We take every possible measure to avoid any infection, and our clinics have a meticulous record.

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