Prolotherapy is a relatively new alternative treatment for relieving pain in different parts of the body. It involves injecting a substance (usually a sugar solution) into the affected area. The body then reacts to the solution by triggering its natural healing mechanism via an acute inflammatory response. It is mostly indicated for joints, tendons, or ligaments. So, you are more likely to receive a prolotherapy treatment in your knee than anywhere else. Some practitioners, however, have suggested that prolotherapy can work for treating low back pain, despite mixed results in the evidence pool. If you have low back pain and you’re thinking about proloterapy as an alternative, then you should really consult a doctor beforehand.
Many studies have indicated that prolotherapy has little or no positive result on easing low back pain in patients when it is used on its own. Sufferers of chronic low back pain who tried prolotherapy treatments (and only those treatments) did not report major benefits. Prolotherapy has been shown to relieve pain in knees and other joints successfully on its own. Still, the effectiveness of prolotherapy for low back pain is suspect.
Some patients have reported that prolotherapy actually can work well in conjunction with other treatments. Exercises, spinal manipulation, and massage have all helped bolster the effects of prolotherapy to a certain degree. Of course, it’s unclear whether prolotherapy actually had any hand in improving back pain or if the combination of other treatments provided the bulk of the pain relief. That is to say, patients could have received back pain relief from something provable like exercise or even spinal manipulation and not prolotherapy itself. Since we know that prolotherapy offers negligible upsides for low back pain on its own, it is easy to suggest that prolotherapy has little or no effect at all (even when combined with other treatments).
Prolotherapy also comes with some attendant risks that you will not find from other treatments. Mild pain, bleeding at the site of the injection, and numbness are all side effects that come with the territory of prolotherapy. In most cases, these side effects are rare or very mild and can be treated with acetaminophen. Other theoretical side effects include:
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to the nerves
While these reactions are exceedingly rare, there is still a possibility that they could occur during a prolotherapy session. Back pain, spinal pain, neck pain, and other issues have also been reported with prolotherapy, but that is a common experience with most injection-based treatments.
In the end, it may not be worth it to try prolotherapy if you want relief from your back pain. It is an as yet unproven treatment that does not produce much improvement in terms of back pain. If you suffer from back pain, you may be better served going more traditional routes for your treatment. Talk to a doctor about what is your best course of action before trying any alternative treatments. Prolotherapy might work for knees and other joints, but it is still inconclusive for back pain sufferers.
Author: Michelle Sims is a proponent of prolotherapy after being a patient of such and obtaining favorable results. She recommend consulting with your doctor before moving forward with such therapy as prolotherapy is not right for everyone.