Prolotherapy (short for proliferative therapy) is used to treat chronic joint pain, which may result when weak ligaments and tendons destabilise a joint and cause muscle spasms "See Reference 1." In prolotherapy, a doctor injects an irritating substance into the affected joint, which causes inflammation and, in turn, prompts the body to launch the wound-healing process. As a result, in theory at least, fibrous new tissue grows in the joint, tightening and securing the weak ligament or tendon and thus stabilising the joint and reducing pain "See References 2, 3, and 4." As with any medical procedure, you'll want to find a skilled practitioner whose advice and abilities you can trust.
Try to find unbiased descriptions of prolotherapy and objective studies of the procedure's effectiveness, such as those cited by the American Association of Orthopaedic Medicine and the American Osteopathic Association of Prolotherapy Integrative Pain Management "See References 3 and 4."
Also consider studies synopsised on such websites as Getprolo.com, but keep in mind that many were published in a journal devoted to prolotherapy.
Read the studies carefully, so you can make an informed decision about whether prolotherapy is right for you.
If you decide to undergo prolotherapy, investigate which practitioners in your area are qualified to perform the procedure. Prolotherapy may be performed by a specially trained MD or doctor of osteopathy, according to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center "See Reference 1." You can find lists of such practitioners on the websites of the American Association of Orthopaedic Medicine (http://www.aaomed.org) and the American Osteopathic Association of Prolotherapy Integrative Pain Management (http://www.acopms.com).
If you prefer, you can contact these groups by e-mail, telephone, or standard mail by using the following contact information:
American Association of Orthopaedic Medicine
600 Pembrook Drive
Woodland Park, CO 80863
American Osteopathic Association of Prolotherapy Integrative Pain Management
303 S. Ingram Court
Middletown, Delaware 19709
Check for other local and national websites, such as Getprolo.com, to compare additional lists of prolotherapy practitioners.
Consider the locations and affiliations of the prolotherapy practitioners in your area.
Visit the websites of prolotherapy practitioners who have them.
Identify a modest number of practitioners you find most interesting.
Before contacting the practitioners on your list, think about questions you'd most like to have answered.
Call each practitioner's office and ask the same questions of each one. For instance, you might want to know how the practitioner trained in prolotherapy, how many prolotherapy procedures the practitioner has completed, where the procedures were done, what percentage of patients experienced reduced joint pain, and what percentage of patients experienced complications after the procedure.
Once you've gathered all your answers, compare them and make an appointment with the practitioner who inspires the most confidence in you.
Prolotherapy typically is performed after more conservative treatments have failed. If you haven't yet completed a full course of anti-inflammatory drug therapy, for instance, you probably aren't a good candidate for prolotherapy.
Prolotherapy isn't a proven treatment and isn't universally accepted by the medical community. "See Reference 1." You'll have to decide for yourself, based on the best objective data you can find, whether you think prolotherapy is a good option for you. The American Association of Orthopaedic Medicine warns that degenerative joint disease commonly stems from arthritis, which thus far has no cure. So even if prolotherapy helps reduce your joint pain, it won't cure the underlying problem "See Reference 3."