Prolotherapy for Chronic Pain

Prolotherapy is one of the most commonly used regenerative medicine injection therapies that Dr. Nelson, ND uses to treat musculoskeletal injures, and chronic conditions like arthritis.

Who is Prolotherapy for?

If you are suffering from any type of chronic pain or sports injury prolotherapy could be a treatment option for you.

Dr. Erik Nelson, ND loves saying that you can basically treat any ligament, tendon, or joint that you can think of that is causing you pain. Some examples are:

  • Sports injuries
  • Sprains & ligament injuries 
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Golfer’s or Tennis elbow
  • Back pain and sciatica
  • Migraines
  • Neck injures like whiplash
  • Foot problems like plantar fasciitis
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Arthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder

…I’m able to run again without major discomfort

“Any runner with a long-lasting injury can attest to how frustrating it can be to be sidelined. After seeing a total of four doctors in my case, I was provided various recommendations: wear custom orthotics, surgery, see a physical therapist, see a chiropractor, get acupuncture, rest, ice, medicate. After about nine months of no improvement (and three diagnoses of sesamoiditis) my doctors ultimately threw their hands up and said they were “baffled” and that running and impact activity were no longer advisable with my injuries. I refused to buy into believing that running was not in the cards for me ever again. So I decided to look elsewhere. And my search landed me in Dr. Nelson’s office to discuss prolotherapy. Three treatments later, my pain is down significantly and I’m able to run again without major discomfort… all thanks to Dr. Nelson!”

Mark Trueman
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“Is prolotherapy right for me?”

Take the 60 second quiz and find out if prolotherapy can help you put an end to your chronic pain once and for all.

How does Prolotherapy work?

The treatment involves a hyperosmotic solution which essentially stimulates local immune cells in the area to respond as if there is an inflammatory reaction. It causes the immune cells to come in and eat up old scar tissue or old fibrotic tissue that’s causing your pain and dysfunction and stimulate new healthy tissue to form.

The reason why it falls under the umbrella of regenerative medicine is that it’s a stimulus to boost or bump up the regenerative processes in the body and to slow down or dampen the degenerative processes in the body. It basically pushes your body into laying down new, healthy regenerative tissue and then trying to limit some of that degenerative process that’s naturally occurring as we age.

…I am happy to say it’s now four weeks later and my knee is much better

“(Dr. Nelson) was honest with me about various treatment options for my knee, their cost and chances of making a difference… I tried prolotherapy injections, and yes, they helped […] I am happy to say it’s now four weeks later and my knee is much better, even though he said it would take about eight weeks to achieve the optimal effect. If this means I can expect more improvement, I’m all for it! I’ve spent my adult life being active and teaching yoga and qi gong, so having a “bum” knee wasn’t something I ever thought would happen to me.

I would tell anybody considering finding a naturopath that Dr. Erik Nelson should be their first choice. He was my first choice once I walked in the door, and I’m grateful to him for his help. I wish he were staying in Arizona. I’m happy to recommend him to anybody looking for a competent and caring physician.”

Phyllis Cochran
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Why see a naturopath for prolotherapy instead of an MD?

At our clinic in Calgary, Dr. Nelson, ND utilizes a holistic view of your health. He’s always working with your body, not against it. Your not just going to get a shot in the knee and be sent home.

Dr. Nelson, ND works with you to create a custom protocol that factors in everything that could be contributing to your pain so that you heal right the first time. Your personal healing plan might also include optimizing your:

  • Sleep & Circadian Rhythms
  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Supplements to help support your healing

When will I see results?

It depends on each person. Usually, two to four injections are the average, if you are a relatively healthy person.

Older patients or someone dealing with other health problems that will impair their ability to heal such as diabetes, typically need a few more injections.

What to expect from your appointments?

At your first appointment, Dr. Nelson, ND will take his time to give you a physical exam and talk to you about what you’ve tried in the past to solve your chronic pain. He’ll also order any labs or imaging he’ll need before your first prolotherapy treatment.

At your second appointment, Dr. Nelson, ND will go over any results from the testing he ordered with you and then give your first prolotherapy injection. He will also go over your therapeutic exercise program with you and any other health recommendations he has to support your healing like supplements and nutrition.

After your 1st injection, you will continue to come back and see Dr. Nelson, ND every 2-3 weeks until you’ve healed.

Your final appointment with Dr. Nelson, ND will give you a long-term plan so that you can maintain the results you’ve gotten so that you can continue to progress and return enjoying your life without pain or discomfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can prolotherapy prevent or postpone surgery?

That’s very much the goal. Prolotherapy in the case of arthritis is a great example of this.

Once arthritis pain gets really bad, the treatment typically recommended is a total replacement, a joint replacement or a total knee arthroplasty, for example. These replacements have a pretty good history and a pretty good prognosis to them. They do a good job of reducing pain and dysfunction.

However, there’s a time limit to how long they’re effective. That’s because the hardware that is put into somebody’s body eventually will break down after 15 to 20 years.

When this happens revision surgery is done and they are not fun. They don’t typically go as well as the first surgery. And usually, the patients are quite a bit older than they were on the first surgery. So they’re not capable of handling as much stress as the original surgery.

That’s where prolotherapy comes in. If you can delay or postpone getting that first surgery until the point where you’re going to live the rest of your life with the original hardware and never have to get a revision you will maintain your active quality of life for as long as you possibly can.

Prolotherapy vs. PRP. What is the difference?

Platelet-rich plasma, which is PRP therapy is a treatment where you take blood out of somebody’s vein, spin it down and take the platelets and inject it into somebody’s injured tissue. 

PRP is a little bit more invasive than prolotherapy. It’s actually quite a strong signal for healing but it requires that your blood is healthy. So if you are struggling with other health problems, those platelets are not gonna be doing what we think they’re gonna be doing or what we want them to do. 

Prolotherapy doesn’t rely on your platelets as much. Yes, it will stimulate platelets in the area. But typically prolotherapy is just dextrose, anesthetic, some B vitamins that are injected into an area. It’s gonna have a similar response in everybody.

Prolotherapy vs. Cortisone

Prolotherapy is a treatment that can basically restart a healing mechanism. Unlike pain killers or cortisone shots, prolotherapy resolves your pain instead of numbing it.

Cortisone is used to calm the immune system down. So if you inject it into an inflamed swollen joint, cortisone will usually calm down that inflammation, and all those signals that are being sent to your brain saying, “Hey, this is painful, don’t walk on it,” for example.

The downside to cortisone is that it simply blocks normal healing mechanisms And using it long-term can cause other problems. It can sometimes cause people to forget that they are still injured and they think they can go run on it for example. That can cause more damage than if they didn’t get any injection in the first place.

The exact opposite is true with prolotherapy. Prolotherapy is a regenerative injection. It’s a regenerative procedure and it’s working with the body. It’s not trying to calm the body down or completely blunt the body’s response. It’s responding with the body and telling it, “Hey we didn’t heal right the first time, come back in, do your thing.” And then you can feel safe going back to your favourite activities.

Is Prolotherapy covered by Alberta Health?

No, prolotherapy is not covered by Alberta Health Services (AHS). It can be covered by some insurance.

Is prolotherapy painful?

Just like any injection, it can be a little bit painful. Usually just poking the needle through the skin, typically is the most pain and discomfort that someone will experience.

There is a little bit of soreness and discomfort that you can expect for one to three days after the injection. That’s because you’re trying to stimulate an immune response that involves inflammation. So it’s normal to a little bit sore after that injection.

What does it cost?

It depends on you.

Every person is different so every treatment plan will be different. Meaning the cost will be based off what Dr. Nelson, ND thinks your treatment will be.

Reviews of the Evidence for Prolotherapy

Prolotherapy Effects on:

Knee Osteoarthritis

Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

Patella Tendinopathy

Osgood Schlatters

Tennis Elbow (Lateral epicondylitis)

Acromioclavicular Joint and Acromial Enthesopathy

Achilles Tendinopathy

Chronic Groin Pain (Adductor Tendinopathy and Osteitis Pubis)

Plantar Fasciitis

Secondary Osteoarthritis of the Hip due to Developmental Dysplasia of Hip (DDP)

Osteoarthritic Thumb, Fingers

Sacroiliac Joints

Put an End to Chronic Pain

Book an assessment with Dr. Nelson to find out if prolotherapy can put an end to your chronic pain and get you back to moving better.