What's The Proof That Prolotherapy Is Working?
Ross Hauser, M.D.
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.
It is common for people to have stiffness upon wakening or after activity. Most commonly this is in the lower back or neck, but could involve any area of the body. A great sign that Prolotherapy is working is that stiffness has subsided. Once Prolotherapy helps stabilize the area involved, the muscles no longer have to provide this stability so they relax. Once they relax, the stiffness subsides.
Dr. Hauser is 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 Dr. Hauser can feel the strength of the knee by testing it. Other areas, he might notice that range of motion has improved or that stability is enhanced. Dr. Hauser also listens 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-rays are a poor indicator that Prolotherapy is working, the reason being that most ligaments do not show up well on X-rays. Dr. Hauser has seen repeat MRI's and X-rays show improvement after Prolotherapy in various areas of the body including the knees, but we don't rely solely on this indicator.
There are definitely 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.