Osteoarthritis and prolotherapy

Because prolotherapy can help to regenerate joints, it should always be considered for treating osteoarthritis.

by Dr. Fred G. Arnold —

One of the most common health conditions is osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease. Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in the world, affecting 43 million persons.

When one suffers from osteoarthritis, a group of mechanical abnormalities including a gradual “wear and tear” or breakdown of joints involving the articular cartilage, ligaments and bone occurs. When bone surfaces lose protective cartilage, the bone may become exposed and damaged.

Symptoms may include joint pain, tenderness, stiffness, locking and sometimes swelling. A variety of causes — hereditary, developmental, metabolic and mechanical — may start the processes that lead to the loss of cartilage.

Traditional treatments generally involve a combination of exercise, lifestyle modification and a variety of pain medications, including steroids. While these modalities may help some patients, none has proven to provide lasting pain control or disease modification for patients with OA. If pain continues or worsens, joint replacement surgery may be recommended.

Prolotherapy injections

In lieu of surgery, specialized prolotherapy injections may be applied to the affected osteoarthritic joint. The solution most commonly used includes a mixture of dextrose (sugar) with anesthetics such as lidocaine and marcaine. These therapeutic injections have been shown to enlarge and strengthen damaged ligaments and intra-articular (cartilage) structures.

Some of the more common conditions that respond to prolotherapy include arthritis in the following areas: neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, finger, mid-back, low back, hip, ankle, toe, and in facet hypertrophy, disc degeneration and bone-on-bone conditions.

A unique approach

Prolotherapy is a very effective treatment for conditions involving osteoarthritis. Before prolotherapy begins, each patient is thoroughly evaluated with a personal history and physical examination. Palpation of osteoarthritic joints that produces pain can, at times, be more beneficial in identifying the problem areas than diagnostic testing.

On an individual basis, further evaluation may include ultrasound, X-rays and/or a MRI before receiving prolotherapy. In cases involving chronic pain, a comprehensive treatment approach may include rehabilitative exercises, as well as nutrition and specific supplements to maximize health and the ability to heal.

Patients are reassessed in two to three weeks, and the injections are repeated at decreasing intervals as conditions are improved and resolved. It is not possible to always predict the exact number of sessions required, since each patient is unique in terms of his ability to repair and re-grow new tissue.

The average number of treatments given is usually between four and six, with some people needing more and others needing fewer. Depending upon each patient’s individual pain level, prescription medication may be provided. However, most patients do well without it or use over-the-counter Tylenol®.


Because prolotherapy can help to regenerate joints, it should always be considered for treating osteoarthritis. By improving the joints, the patient will experience a reduction in pain and swelling, as well as improved range of motion.

If you are suffering from osteoarthritis, are tired of taking pain pills and dangerous steroids, and surgery has been recommended, prolotherapy may help. Prolotherapy should always be considered when other treatments have failed and before resorting to recommended surgery.


Fred G. Arnold, D.C., N.M.D., specializes in prolotherapy/pain rehabilitation services. A Diplomate of the American Academy Health Care Providers, he is one of the few physicians in the nation with both naturopathic and chiropractic degrees. 602-292-2978or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 2, April/May 2012.

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