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Prolotherapy 101

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:49pm

LARRY, PROLOTHERAPY PATIENT: I tore the muscles in my shoulder, the rotator cuff. So I was trying to get that back.

ANNOUNCER: After living with the pain for years, Larry turned to an alternative treatment called prolotherapy for help.

DR. IRWIN ABRAHAM, MD: Prolotherapy is injection of a substance which will promote new growth in tissues in the body. For the musculoskeletal system, we're talking about injecting a solution into tendons and ligaments where they attach to the bone, and that jump-starts healing.

ANNOUNCER: Proponents say this injection causes inflammation and that triggers the tissue to heal itself.

DR. IRWIN ABRAHAM, MD: So it's producing a signal, just like if you have a cut on your skin, that the very act of, having the damage there in a cut produces a signal for the cells that come in and produce new tissue and heal the skin - the same things on a very smaller scale where we inject into tendons and ligaments.

ANNOUNCER: While research on prolotherapy continues, some studies suggest it may help ease chronic pain, especially when combined with physical therapy.

LARRY, PROLOTHERAPY PATIENT: Doing body work and lifting weights and rehab and stuff - yeah, it worked - definitely.

ANNOUNCER: And the main ingredient in this prolotherapy injection may surprise you.

DR. IRWIN ABRAHAM, MD: Prolotherapy, as it jump-starts this healing, uses a very safe solution, which is usually sugar and water, the same sugar that's in your body -- glucose -- and that starts the production of a pathway of cells that produce the new tissue to come to the area. They multiply, and then over several weeks they lay down new good fibers that strengthen the tendons and ligaments. It's never more than the area needs, because the body seems to know what to do, and there's never any scar tissue. It's always good tissue.

ANNOUNCER: For Larry, prolotherapy proved to be just the shot he needed – so now he's using it for a tennis injury.

LARRY, PROLOTHERAPY PATIENT: Everyone that promoted said that it was going to work. Take a chance. Which I did. And it worked.

ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily.

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