What’s The Proof That Prolotherapy Is Working?
This is a common question asked by people just about to receive Prolotherapy for the first time. Typically there are several variables that are looked at to make sure the Prolotherapy is achieving the results the person desires.
Is the person able to function better? If a person can go up two flights of stairs without knee pain after Prolotherapy, whereas prior to the Prolotherapy this would cause excruciating pain then you know that Prolotherapy is helping their function. Typically people come to get Prolotherapy because they are unable to perform some function, activity, or sport because of the pain. If it is throwing a baseball hard, then we would want the person to get Prolotherapy until this function was able to be performed. Whatever the function is, a person should receive Prolotherapy until able to perform the desired activity without pain.
Ligament and tendon injury cause muscle strength to decline. When a person receives Prolotherapy, one of the noticeable effects is that strength increases in the injected areas. So whether it is the back, neck, knees, or another joint a person should notice an improvement in the strength in the area that received Prolotherapy.
Pain, as you can see, is only one variable that is helped by Prolotherapy. A noticeable decrease in pain is a great benefit of getting Prolotherapy. Ideally a person would receive Prolotherapy until all of their pain is gone.
Stiffness and muscle spasms subside
It is common for people to have muscle stiffness upon wakening or after activity. Most commonly this is in the lower back or neck, but could involve any area of the body. Another common complaint with chronic pain patients involve chronic muscle spasms. A great sign that Prolotherapy is working is that stiffness and spasms have begun to subside. Once Prolotherapy helps stabilize the area involved, the muscles no longer have to provide this stability so they relax. Once they relax, the stiffness and spasms are relieved.
Proper range of motion upon physical examination
Our Prolotherapy practitioners are able to assess whether the body is healing from Prolotherapy often just by his physical examination. In the knee it is quite easy to tell a ligament is getting stronger because ligament laxity of the knee by testing it. Other areas, he might notice that range of motion has improved or that stability is enhanced. Dr. Hauser and PA Steilen also listen for crepitation or crunching in the joints which can often be audibly heard by moving the joint. The joint that doesn’t crunch is also improving.
X-ray and MRI documented improvement
We should first note that X-rays are a often a poor indicator that Prolotherapy is working because ligaments do not show up well on X-rays. Though, we have studied X-rays before and after Prolotherapy in arthritic joints to show improvement of cartilage. While we have seen repeat MRI’s and X-rays show improvement after Prolotherapy, but we don’t rely solely on this indicator. There is a high false positive and false negative rate with MRIs which is a chief reason that we do not rely on them as a primary indicator of a patient’s improvement with therapy either. We do not treat X-rays or MRIs, we treat patients. We want to see their pain decrease and their abilities and quality of life increase. Those are the most important indicators in our opinion!
Less clicking and grinding
Because Prolotherapy works to restore proper joint function and motion, it makes sense that there should be less clicking, popping, and grinding when the joint moves. As the ligaments and tendons tighten, the abnormal joint crepitation also subsides. Patients with hypermobility syndromes notice less subluxing and dislocations as the ligaments grown stronger.
There are quite a few ways that we can tell that the Prolotherapy is working. The above is not an exhaustive list, but just a short explanation as to ways to tell that the Prolotherapy is accomplishing what it was set out to do…specifically to set the person free…free from pain, immobility, limiting activities, and stiffness.