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Prolotherapy uses a dextrose (sugar water) solution, which is injected into the ligament or tendon where it attaches to the bone. This causes a localized inflammation in these weak areas which then increases the blood supply and flow of nutrients and stimulates the tissue to repair itself.
Historical review shows that a version of this technique was first used by Hippocrates on soldiers with dislocated, torn shoulder joints. He would stick a hot poker into the joint, and it would then miraculously heal normally. Of course, we don’t use hot pokers today, but the principle is similar—get the body to repair itself, an innate ability that the body has.
An assessment of prolotherapy prepared for the California Technology Assessment Forum (CTAF) concluded that prolotherapy does not meet CTAF's assessment criteria (Feldman, 2004). The assessment concluded “only one early study (Ongley et al., 1987) was able to demonstrate conclusively that prolotherapy was significantly superior to placebo for treatment of chronic low back pain. Subsequent research has not been able to replicate this finding. It is therefore not possible to conclude from the published literature that prolotherapy is superior to placebo injection for the treatment of chronic low back pain.”