What is prolotherapy?
Prolotherapy, or proliferation therapy, is the injection of a solution to stimulate the growth of new cells to heal painful areas. Our clinic uses hypertonic dextrose to disrupt the homeostasis that your body always aims to reach, which in turns calls on your body's healing cascade to focus its attention on the injected tissue. Ligaments are the most common sites for injection although muscles and tendons can also be treated.
Ligaments surround all our joints, connecting bone to bone. They also have a large number of nerve endings so that if they are over-stretched, they cause pain! With the passage of time, ligaments become slack from our natural posture and daily activities. They can also be injured by trauma.
Will I benefit from this treatment?
Your candidacy for treatment by prolotherapy must be assessed. It is important that a trained clinician performs an assessment, as conservative therapies should be considered first. The more information we have when you visit, the better judgment we can make about your treatment.
What do the injections consist of?
The injections consist of a mixture of a local anaesthetic and hypertonic dextrose. The Dextrose solution is a strong enough concentration to irritate the injected tissue. This stimulates mild inflammation in the area, which is the first part of the healing process.
Are there any risks?
The most common risks when puncturing skin, namely infection and bleeding, are very rare due to the small diameter of the needle that we use.
The other risk of consequence is the possibility of puncturing a lung, when injecting the upper part of your back. This is rare.
Is this painful?
The injections are uncomfortable, but the local anaesthetic removes the pain quickly. In spite of this, or if you are having many levels injected, you may feel unable to tolerate the pain. If so, we will discuss alternatives.
How Many Injections Will I Need?
Most men require three to six treatments. Women usually require six to nine treatments. Treatments are done weekly, biweekly, or monthly. You can expect to see improvement from the injections one to two months after the last injection.
What Follow Up Treatments Are Needed?
Is there a cost?
At present Alberta Health Care does not cover the cost of prolotherapy. The cost per treatment can range from $200 to $250 CAD per treatment session. The fee varies depending on the number of areas treated. The fee will cover the cost of the procedure and materials used. Insurance plans vary, but as evidence and clinical success increases, more and more insurance companies will reimburse for the treatment. There is a fee to replace lost receipts. Payment must be made at the beginning of each office visit. We do not direct bill your insurance company, nor does WCB pay for prolotherapy.
Stay as active as possible without aggravating your condition. Break up tasks that bother you into shorter pieces e.g. vacuum one room at a time instead of doing the whole house at once. Walking every day is usually safe. For those who cannot tolerate walking, swimming or buoyant activity is a good way to stay active without irritating your symptoms.
Please have your referring health care provider (doctor or physiotherapist) send a referral. Our staff will contact you for booking.
What should I wear and bring with me?
You should wear loose fitting clothing that allows easy access to the affected area. This will also be more comfortable afterwards. There is often some pinpoint bleeding after the injections which could stain your clothes.