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Invented in the 1950s by George Hackett, prolotherapy is based on the theory that chronic pain is often caused by laxness of the ligaments that are responsible for keeping a joint stable. When ligaments and associated tendons are loose, the body is said to compensate by using muscles to stabilize the joint. The net result, according to prolotherapy theory, is muscle spasms and pain.
Prolotherapy treatment involves injections of chemical irritant solutions into the area around such ligaments. These solutions are believed to cause tissue to proliferate (grow), increasing the strength and thickness of ligaments. In turn, this presumably serves to tighten up the joint and relieve the burden on associated muscles, stopping muscle spasms. In the case of arthritic joints, increased ligament...
In studies, prolotherapy has not caused any serious, irreversible injury. There is usually discomfort after each injection that lasts for a few minutes to several days, but this discomfort is seldom severe. 1 Of more concern, severe headaches have been reported in treatment of low back pain in a minority of patients. Because phenol is a potentially toxic substance, treatment with a dextrose solution alone is preferable.