Prolotherapy for Back Pain: More Effective Alternative?

Prolotherapy for Back Pain: More Effective Alternative?
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Back Pain

Back pain, especially chronic lower back pain, is a very common condition without a universal cure. There are however many possible solutions for sufferers, from massage therapy and acupuncture to painkillers and surgery. Prolotherapy for back pain is a unique alternative treatment, which for some results in a permanent end to suffering.

Simple, everyday injuries, caused by straining the ligaments in the back, can result in a serious, long-term condition. When the ligaments are stretched, maybe from lifting a heavy object with poor posture, or from bending and twisting with locked knees or even from over-exerting oneself while exercising, they weaken. Weak, unstable tissue almost inevitably leads to more injury, and more pain. Prolotherapy injections attempt to correct this by stimulating the body’s natural healing response.

Prolotherapy Injections

The injections used by prolotherapists to treat back pain (and other ligament and tendon related conditions) are a solution known as a proliferant. A proliferant is generally a combination of an inflammatory agent, such as glucose, combined with a numbing agent, such as lidocaine. The result is acute, localized inflammation around the area of injury. The proliferant acts to irritate the tissue, causing the body to respond by forming new tissue. This regenerated tissue is assumed to be stronger and more stable than the weak or injured ligaments that caused the problem in the first place.


What is treatment like? A physician will examine the area causing pain to determine if weakened ligaments are the problem. This can be done by having the patient move into certain positions and stimulating the area to find out what causes pain. If treatable with prolotherapy, injections are administered, during a series of sessions spaced several weeks apart. For some people injections for back pain are helpful after one time, for others, it may take four to twelve sessions.

Side Effects

Prolotherapy for back pain is a relatively safe procedure, with minimal side effects. There will be an increase in pain and stiffness for the first few days during a period of acute inflammation. There should not be intense pain, and in fact, this may be a sign of an infection, particularly if there is a fever as well. Other possible side effects include injury to the ligament or tendon, nerve injury, bruising, or bleeding.

The risks are low, regardless, they should be considered. According to research, prolotherapy is most effective when used in conjunction with other alternative treatments for chronic back pain, such as spinal adjustment, exercises, and massage. Talk to your physician if thinking about trying prolotherapy to find out if this method may be right for you.


Hauser, Ross A. “Risks with Prolotherapy.” (

The Healthy Back Institute

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photo by: Evil Erin (CC/flickr)


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