Prolotherapy: A New Strategy to Osteoarthritis Care?

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Ryan Sciacchitano, BKin, CSCS, CISSN
Tracey Teasdale, ND, CISSN

Pupil Scholarship – 1st Place Analysis Assessment

Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterised by degeneration of the articular cartilage of a joint, in addition to the related joint lining, ligaments, and underlying bone.1 OA is strongly related to advancing age, with common onset occurring within the fifth decade of life.2 An estimated 30% of Canadians have been recognized, 51.Three% of whom are below the age of 65.2 In Canada the productiveness prices of labor loss (PCWL) related to OA elevated to $17.5 billion in 2008.Three The burden on the healthcare system can be alarming, with the full annual value per affected person estimated at roughly US $5700.Four This doesn’t embrace the roughly 39% of individuals with OA who reported an lack of ability to entry wanted healthcare companies, mostly attributable to OA’s debilitating results.5

At present, no treatment exists for OA.1 Acupuncture6 and corticosteroid injection7 have proven essentially the most efficacy in lowering acute ache. Nevertheless, the analysis analyzing acupuncture for OA is of poor high quality,6 and corticosteroid injections have regarding systemic results (eg, disturbed management of diabetes and hypertension, facial flushing, inhibition of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, sepsis, and dying in very uncommon circumstances), and its long-term security has not been addressed in a passable method.7 Joint substitute surgical procedures have gotten extra efficacious, however the associated fee is overwhelming, with an estimated $42.2 billion spent on knee and hip replacements in america, alone, in 2009.eight This text examines the impact of prolotherapy on OA as a cheap strategy to enhancing medical outcomes.

OA Therapy Tips

Present standard medical therapy for OA focuses on decreasing and controlling ache, minimizing incapacity, and educating sufferers and their households in regards to the illness.9 Non-pharmacologic therapies are thought-about first-line therapies, to be carried out earlier than use of pharmacologic brokers (see Desk 1).10

Desk 1. Standard OA Remedies & Therapeutic Objectives10,11

Therapy Therapy Objective
Relaxation and restricted use of affected joint Lower ache and irritation
Weight discount (if needed) Lower stress on weight-bearing joints
Warmth remedy Lower ache
Train (vary of movement, strengthening, and aquatic-based workouts) Enhance mobility, lower ache and stress on the joint; common strengthening of quadriceps12 and hip abductors and adductors13 has been proven to scale back knee ache related to OA
Occupational remedy evaluation Assess present talents in performing each day actions and potential want for ambulatory aids
Affected person teaching programs Enhance general medical outcomes14,15


If non-pharmacologic therapies will not be thought-about passable, prescribed drugs are then thought-about for discount of ache and swelling and elevated joint perform. They’re listed in Desk 2 within the typical order practitioner considers implementing them.

Desk 2. Pharmaceutical Remedies for OA10,11

Conventional NSAIDs (eg, aspirin, ibuprofen)
Selective COX-2 inhibitors (eg, celecoxib)
Meloxicam (COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitor; preferential for COX-2)
Opioids (eg, codeine)
Tramadol (opiate-like analgesic)
Intra-articular corticosteroid injection (eg, methylprednisolone and triamcinolone)
Hyaluronic acid injection


If the response to those therapies is insufficient, standard medical observe additionally considers joint substitute surgical procedure as a possible therapy.9 Good proof exists exhibiting considerably optimistic advantages on the short- and long-term high quality of life in sufferers after this process.16 Osteotomy can be thought-about, however is much less widespread, as it’s at present considered as a short-term measure, probably solely delaying full joint substitute.17

Naturopathic drugs is changing into more and more outstanding within the therapy of OA, as current studies counsel that roughly 60-90% of dissatisfied arthritis sufferers are more likely to search complementary and various drugs.18 Naturopathic docs usually start with lots of the therapies listed in Desk 1, after which proceed with acupuncture and dietary suggestions particular to every affected person. Widespread dietary supplements carried out for OA are reviewed in Desk Three.

Desk Three. Widespread Naturopathic Dietary supplements

Therapy Dose & Period Efficacy of Therapy
Curcumin Mostly 1 g/d in divided doses, minimal Four-6 wk Enchancment in ache on Visible Analogue Scale (VAS; imply distinction -2.04), and imply Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) rating of 15.3619
Vitamin D 60 000 IU/d X 10 d, then 60 000 IU as soon as/mo X 12 mo20
50,000 IU/month X 2 y21
Improved WOMAC scores with out reaching minimal medical vital distinction; small lower in short-term signs20


No change in MRI-measured tibial cartilage quantity or WOMAC knee ache21

Glucosamine / Chondroitin sulfate 800 mg/d, 1-Three y


1500 mg/d, 1-Three y

Every individually confirmed no distinction vs placebo after 1 12 months of therapy. Might delay radiologic development of OA after 2-Three years of therapy,22,23 however threat of publication bias exists,24 with some research exhibiting no impact.25 The mix in contrast equally to celecoxib, with fewer uncomfortable side effects.26
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) 1.125 g TID X 12 wk27


5 g/d X 6 mo28

Small enchancment in WOMAC bodily perform and complete scores, however not in WOMAC ache or stiffness scores27


In contrast favorably to glucosamine when mixed with Boswellia28

Fish oil 1332 mg with 600 mg omega-Three/d X 26 wk29

Four.5 g mixed EPA/DHA/d vs zero.45 g mixed EPA/DHA + sunflower oil/d X 2 y30

Improves results of glucosamine sulfate on WOMAC scale29


Solely the zero.45 g group reached minimal 12-point enchancment in WOMAC perform; increased dose much less efficient30

Boswellia serrata 350 mg curcumin, 150 mg Boswellia (75% boswellic acids) per day X 12 wk31

333 mg Boswellia (minimal 40% boswellic acids) per day X eight wk32

When mixed with curcumin, carried out higher on symptom-scoring and medical examination than celecoxib31
Decreased knee ache, elevated knee flexion, and elevated strolling distance in a small randomized managed trial32
Pure eggshell membrane (NEM) 500 mg/d X 30-60 d WOMAC scores didn’t enhance considerably, though the authors calculated an NNT (quantity wanted to deal with) of 5 for a 50% discount in ache in medical observe. The danger of publication bias exists attributable to doable battle of curiosity.33
Ginger 750 mg/d X 12 wk34

133 mg TID (ginger extract) X Three wk35

Enchancment on WOMAC scores; higher enchancment when mixed with diclofenac (which was additionally higher than diclofenac alone)34
Inferior magnitude of impact than ibuprofen; barely higher than placebo35
Harpagophytum procumbens (satan’s claw) 2400 mg doloteffin (50 mg harpagoside) X 12 wk36

650 mg complete mixed satan’s claw, curcumin, bromelain; length unknown37

2610 mg X Four mo38

Unblinded examine demonstrated enchancment in complete WOMAC rating (imply distinction 12.6) and VAS rating for ache (25.eight%)36
Vital reductions in each acute and persistent ache on VAS when mixed with turmeric and bromelain37
At the least as efficient as a reference drug (diacerhein) and decreased the necessity for NSAIDs38

Observe: For research utilizing the WOMAC scale, a 12-point enchancment is taken into account the minimal medical vital distinction.


Prolotherapy (from “proliferative remedy”) includes the injection of a hyperosmolar dextrose resolution.39 It was formalized by George Hackett, a common surgeon in america, who had been utilizing this therapy clinically for over 30 years.40 The answer acts as an irritant, which is usually injected right into a joint house, tendinous insertion, or ligament. Options aside from dextrose have been used (phenol-glycerine-glucose, and morrhuate sodium); nonetheless, the dextrose resolution is mostly researched and used clinically. The targets and prompt advantages embrace improved joint stability, biomechanics, and performance, in addition to decreased ache.41 Unwanted effects largely contain minor ache related to the needle puncture, with no severe adversarial results having been reported. The purported mechanism of motion isn’t well-defined in scientific literature.39 It’s prompt that when the dextrose resolution is injected, it creates an inflammatory response as a result of osmotic rupture of native cells, in addition to an upregulation of the expression of platelet-derived progress elements. That is thought-about to be efficient largely due to the poor blood provide that joint cavities, tendons, and ligaments usually obtain. In essence, prolotherapy recruits the physique’s personal cells to those broken sights to hurry therapeutic and restore tissue that the physique is notoriously sluggish at therapeutic. In-vitro research clearly point out a speedy elevation of progress think about chondrocytes, however this has but to be demonstrated in vivo.41 So far, eight human medical trials, together with 6 randomized managed trials, have been carried out on prolotherapy for OA. Their outcomes are summarized in Desk Four.

Desk Four. Prolotherapy & Current Scientific Analysis

Scientific Trial % Dextrose Injection Schedule Abstract of Outcomes
Sert; 201642 Unspecified zero, Three, 6 weeks VAS rating and all WOMAC scores decreased considerably within the prolotherapy group vs the saline injection group and management group on the 18-wk follow-up; all teams given the identical residence train program
Rabago; 201543 25% intra-articular, 15% extra-articular Weeks 1, 5, 9; wk 13 and 17 non-compulsory Vital enchancment from baseline on WOMAC scale. Ache, stiffness, and performance all improved steadily by means of the length of the examine, with a mean enchancment of 20.9 factors at 52 wk. 53 individuals had been thought-about responders, whereas 12 noticed no enchancment or worsening, attributed partly to not following post-injection directions, ie, partaking in heavy train quickly thereafter.
Rabago; 201444 25% intra-articular, 15% extra-articular Weeks 1, 5, 9; wk 13 and 17 non-compulsory Common composite rating change on WOMAC was 16.5 over 1 12 months. Most individuals skilled near-maximum enchancment by 24 wk and remained secure by means of 1 12 months.
Jahangiri; 201445 20% 1, 2, Three months Higher outcomes had been noticed for the corticosteroid group at 1 mo; the teams had been comparable at 2 mo; and extra favorable outcomes had been noticed within the prolotherapy group at 6 mo. Each teams noticed enhancements, however prolotherapy gave the impression to be simpler by way of complete perform.
Rabago; 201346 25% intra-articular, 15% extra-articular Weeks 1, 5, 9; wk 13 and 17 non-compulsory The prolotherapy group confirmed progressive enhancements over the course of 52 wk. The typical enchancment rating at 52 wk on WOMAC was 15.32, or 24%. The management teams (saline, train) additionally confirmed enchancment, however considerably lower than the prolotherapy group.
Rabago; 201247 25% intra-articular, 15% extra-articular Weeks 1, 5, 9; wk 13 and 17 non-compulsory A 15.9 level complete enchancment on the WOMAC scale (36.1%) noticed at 12 wk and maintained by means of the 52-wk examine length. Feminine gender, age 46-65 y, and BMI of 25 or much less had been related to higher enhancements.
Reeves; 200041 10% zero, 2, Four months Ache with finger motion improved considerably extra within the prolotherapy group (42%) vs management (15%). Flexion vary of movement additionally improved extra within the prolotherapy group. Ache at relaxation and with gripping improved greater than placebo, however these outcomes weren’t statistically vital.
Reeves; 200048 10% zero, 2, Four months At 6 months, ache, swelling, buckling episodes, and knee flexion vary had been considerably improved within the intervention group vs placebo.
At 12 months, additional lower in ache (general 44% lower), swelling (general 63% lower), knee buckling (general 85% decreased frequency), and flexion vary (general 14 diploma enhance).
Statistically vital enhancements had been present in osteophyte grades, cartilage thickness, and proximal tibial width.

Scientific Implications

OA is a quite common dysfunction, with an anticipated rise in prevalence2 that may enhance the already large burden on the healthcare systemeight and workforce.5 Most present therapies are unsatisfactory, solely concentrating on symptom administration, and have to be maintained all through the affected person’s life.

Whereas the physique of proof might not but be ample, the purported vital long-term, sustained profit, together with the decreased use of ache drugs and relative security of the therapy, make prolotherapy a really interesting choice to practitioners. Nevertheless, prolotherapy can’t as but be thought-about a first-line possibility for the therapy of OA as a result of vital data remains to be missing. For instance, standardized dosages, formulations, and therapy schedules haven’t been established, with some authors attributing a couple of adversarial results to presumably utilizing too excessive of a dose and complete quantity of fluid of their examine. This lack of consistency can result in potential confusion when making an attempt to use these outcomes clinically. Based mostly on the analysis to-date, 25% intra-articular and 15% extra-articular injections at 1, 5, and 9 weeks could be essentially the most evidence-based strategy, permitting for regeneration of each cartilage and surrounding tender tissue. Bigger trials with each biomechanical and imaging measures are wanted to find out the true medical good thing about prolotherapy.


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Picture Copyright: <a href=’’>magiceyes / 123RF Inventory Photograph</a>

Ryan Sciacchitano, BKin, CSCS, CISSN, is a Fourth-year intern on the Canadian School of Naturopathic Medication. By his a few years as an athlete, together with competing for the College of Toronto varsity soccer group and Toronto FC, Ryan developed a fascination for optimum well being and efficiency. His present targets revolve round buying, creating, and increasing his data to be able to assist others notice their full potential in well being and athletics.


Tracey Teasdale, ND, CISSN, is a naturopathic physician and sports activities nutritionist in non-public observe in Barrie, Ontario; she can be a sports activities drugs medical supervisor on the Canadian School of Naturopathic Medication. Dr Teasdale is a printed creator and recipient of the Sport Data Useful resource Centre’s Analysis Growth Award for her analysis on trigger-point remedy and ache administration. Her ardour lies in maximizing her affected person’s potential, in each sport and life.

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