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Prolotherapy at Calgary Centre for Health

What is prolotherapy?

When ligaments or tendons (also known as connective tissue) are stretched or torn, the joint destabilizes and can become painful with movement. Prolotherapy is an injection technique used to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes to create thicker, shorter and stronger connective tissues. This mild inflammatory response helps to stabilize the joint and relieve pain. Additional treatments repeat this process to allow for a gradual build-up of tissue to restore the original strength to the area. A combination of dextrose and lidocaine is used for the injection solution. We use preservative-free solutions to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

How soon after my last corticosteroid injection can I get prolotherapy?

The effects of corticosteroids last approximately 42 days (6 weeks). We do not recommend prolotherapy injections within that time frame, as it will inhibit the benefits.

Frequency of injections

Frequency of treatment depends on the location and severity of the injury. In general, it should be done one month apart. Injection frequency may be adjusted, as per the practitioner’s assessments and recommendations.

Risks and complications

Side effects from injection therapy are uncommon and when they do occur are usually mild and transient. Discomfort, swelling, and stiffness to the injection area is normal for a few days following the injection, as the purpose of prolotherapy is to stimulate the inflammatory response. Some people may also experience bruising or bleeding to the site.
Uncommon complications of prolotherapy include infection, headache, nausea/vomiting, dizziness/fainting, or temporary increase of the blood sugar. Rare complications of prolotherapy include allergic reaction, pneumothorax when injecting near the lungs, spinal cord injury when injecting into the spine, nerve damage, and injury to the muscle and/or tendons.
To reduce risks and complications, prolotherapy is not recommended in the following situations:

  • Within the first 8 weeks of an acute initial injury (i.e., sprain or strain)
  • During times of acute inflammation
  • First trimester of pregnancy
  • Presence of poorly controlled diabetes
  • Having a condition or taking medications that makes you prone to bleeding
  • Presence of a total joint replacement in the area intended to be treated


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