Prolotherapy: An Alternative to Knee Arthroplasty

  • If surgery is not an option for your failing knee, what alternatives can you consider? By now you might have been through physical therapy, and are just shaking your head. The medications are burning a hole in your stomach. Walking sticks and canes do not provide enough relief. Or maybe you are too young to have the knees replaced. So what’s a person to do if surgery is out of the question? Consider prolotherapy.


    This injection therapy is different than the typical steroid shots into the knee. Prolotherapy uses hypertonic solution in order to stimulate healing and reduce pain. Although the exact mechanism of why it works is unknown, for some reason it just works in some individuals.

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    In a recent study at the University of Wisconsin, participants with knee osteoarthritis were randomized into three groups. Some received the prolotherapy, some received sham injections and some received exercises alone. At the end of the 52 week trial, 67% of the prolotherapy group improved significantly compared with 46% of the control groups that did not receive the prolotherapy treatment. Additionally, no side effects or adverse effects from the prolotherapy were noted.


    This alternative treatment for knee osteoarthritis works for a majority of people, but no one really knows why it works. It may decrease pain directly via the nervous system or there maybe mechanical changes to the joint that render it more stable. If you are the one that has benefitted from the treatment, you probably don’t care why it works, only that it has helped you get back on your feet again. 


    If you are interested in finding a prolotherapy practioner, ask your current medical group or insurance carrier. There could be a prolotherapist in your area. Otherwise, you can look for a prolotherapist on listing like Just remember that these sites are advertising and not necessarily screening for quality care. Expect a series of visits and an initial increase of pain. Prolotherapy inflicts some temporary injury in order to promote healing; thus, the temporary increase in pain. This minor inconvenience could be worth it. Prolotherapy might be just the solution you are looking for if your knee arthritis is unbearable, yet surgery is not an option for you.




    Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2013 Nov;94(11):2075-82



Published On: November 29, 2013