Prolotherapy in Primary Care

Summary Article on Prolotherapy
"Prolotherapy in Primary Care"


In the journal "Primary Care," University of Wisconsin physicians discuss the evidence for use of prolotherapy in primary care.  Their conclusions are as follows:

Present data suggest that prolotherapy is likely an effective therapy for painful overuse tendinopathy. Specifically, Scarpone et al
provides level A evidence for prolotherapy as an effective therapy for lateral epicondylosis. Subjects with refractory lateral epicondylosis and treated with prolotherapy reported significant reduction in pain and improved isometric strength compared to those who received control injections. These findings are supported by the Maxwell,7 Topol57 and Ryan61 studies that report strong case series results for Achilles, hip adductor and plantar fasciitis, respectively and provide level B evidence for these conditions. Given that the underlying mechanism of injury and pathophysiologic effects are similar for tendinopathies, prolotherapy is a reasonable option for these conditions as well. Randomized controlled trials for all three tendinopathies and for other tendinopathies are indicated.

Recommendations are more difficult to make for osteoarthritis and low back pain, both of which are associated with more complex anatomy and less clear pathophysiology than that seen in tendinopathies. Side effect and potential adverse events of prolotherapy are likely to be more serious when performed for spinal or intra-articular indications and must be weighed against the potential for improvement. Existing studies provide level B evidence that prolotherapy is effective for non-specific low back pain compared to a patient’s baseline condition. Given that subjects with refractory, disabling low back pain significantly improved compared to their own baseline status in the Yelland study,27 patients may reasonably try prolotherapy when performed by an experienced injector. Future studies with more focused inclusion criteria may help determine which specific low back pathologies respond to prolotherapy. Existing studies provide level B evidence that prolotherapy is effective for knee and finger osteoarthritis compared to control injections. Prolotherapy by an experienced physician is a treatment modality worth of consideration by primary care physicians for these conditions, especially when they are refractory to more conventional therapy.


Reference:  Rabago D, Slattengren A, Zgierska A. Prolotherapy in Primary Care. Prim Care. 2010 March ; 37(1): 65–80. doi:10.1016/j.pop.2009.09.013.

K. Dean Reeves, M.D. is a physician and medical researcher in the area of pain caused by arthritis, chronic sprains and chronic strains. His private practice is located in the greater Kansas City area of Roeland Park, Kansas.  He collaborates in research with other locations across the country and internationally, and is licensed in the states of Kansas and Missouri.

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Dr. K. Dean Reeves

No part of this site should be understood to be personal medical advice or instruction in how to perform injection therapy. A decision on treatment requires a good history and full examination and a knowledge of your treatment goals. Treatment decisions should be made in consultation with your personal healthcare professional and/or prolotherapist.