Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Prolotherapy: Solution to low back pain?

Is prolotherapy an effective treatment for chronic low back pain?

Updated: 09-27-2012

Answer

Prolotherapy is a complementary treatment for muscle and joint pain. The treatment involves repeated injections of an irritant solution into part of a joint — the joint's interior, for example, or a supporting tendon or ligament. The irritant, usually a sugar solution, is thought to trigger growth in the connective tissue of the joint, eventually leading to reduced pain.

Studies of prolotherapy in people with low back pain have had mixed results. A combination of prolotherapy and spinal manipulation or back exercises seems to be more effective than is prolotherapy alone.

The American Pain Society recommends against prolotherapy for treating low back pain, but other authorities are suspending judgment until larger, more-thorough studies have been done. Until then, talk to your doctor before deciding whether prolotherapy is right for you.