Prolotherapy at the Center for Integrative Medicine

The Center for Integrative Medicine is conducting a research study to evaluate the benefits of prolotherapy for tennis elbow.

Prolotherapy is a technique for treating chronic pain around joints and ligaments. It involves injecting small amounts of a sugar solution into those areas. These injections stimulate the body to repair the painful area.

What Is Prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy is a technique for treating chronic pain around joints and ligaments. It involves injecting small amounts of an irritant, such as a concentrated glucose or sugar solution, into those areas. This causes localized inflammation in the painful structures. As the inflammation resolves, healing occurs which can result in improved stability and decreased pain. These improvements can be maintained long-term after a series of injections.

What Is the Background of Prolotherapy?

  • After a musculoskeletal injury, there is often a strain or stretch of ligaments. Usually, healing occurs restoring ligaments to their normal strength. However, if this healing does not occur, the result is lax ligaments. This can cause instability, muscle spasm, and a tendency to incur reinjury. Common approaches to treatment, including nonsteroidal medications or steroid injections, can result in delayed healing.
  • Prolotherapy has been used to treat chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions for well over 50 years. It was developed and refined by several physicians in the Midwest. These doctors found that injecting an irritant into tendons and ligaments resulted in healing and long-term improvement. Research has shown changes in collagen —one of the building blocks for connective tissue — with prolotherapy injections and clinical studies have found benefit of the injections for specific chronic pain conditions.

What Are the Indications for Prolotherapy?

The Center is involved in ongoing research into the benefits of prolotherapy for many types of musculoskeletal pain conditions including:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lower back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Pain from whiplash injuries
  • Tennis elbow
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tendonitis/bursitis
  • Osteoarthritis

What Are the Contraindications to Prolotherapy?

Patients who have allergies to the medications to be injected, bleeding or a coagulation disorder, and anticoagulation (for instance, patients taking coumadin).

​Contact Us

UPMC Center for Integrative Medicine
Shadyside Place
Suite 310
580 S. Aiken Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

For general information or to schedule an appointment, call 412-623-3023.


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