fb pixle

What Is Prolotherapy? Your Complete Guide to Chronic Pain Relief

by | May 11, 2022 | Regenerative Medicine

Prolotherapy is a safe, non-surgical treatment for chronic pain that uses injections to stimulate your body’s natural healing process. It has been used on patients for decades to treat pain from aging, overuse or injury. Prolotherapy targets the specific areas where you feel chronic pain and promotes natural and accelerated repair.

Diagram of tendons before and after prolotherapy.

At Odom Health and Wellness, we see significant success with a wide variety of prolotherapy patients. Dr. John Ododm is one of only a handful of physicians in the Twin Cities area to practice the Hackett Hemwall method of Prolotherapy. He specializes in customized treatment programs that will reduce pain and help restore peak movement to your body. Our goal is to get you off all pain meds and experience natural healing using only supplements. 

If you’re unsure if prolotherapy is right for you or want to better understand how it works, our complete guide will hopefully answer your questions. Our friendly staff is always available to talk one on one, so please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our goal is to help you feel your best!

Who is Prolotherapy For?

An older man holds his back in pain while his wife comforts him.Prolotherapy is a safe and proven way to manage or cure chronic pain caused by accident, injury, overuse or aging. If you experience chronic pain and are looking for a way to address it without constant medication or invasive surgery, prolotherapy could be for you. 

The ideal prolotherapy candidate needs to be patient and dedicated. In order for prolotherapy to work, you’ll need to follow through with a series of three to six treatments and follow your physician’s recommendations. If you are slower to respond to the treatment, you may need ten or more sessions and a stronger solution.A runner grabs his knee in pain.

We will perform a complete examination and health history to determine if you would be a good patient for prolotherapy. The process can often include other treatments such as physical therapy, massage and nutrition. Once we approve your treatment, you’ll sign a consent waiver and you can begin your path to feeling better.

Common conditions that benefit from prolotherapy treatment:

  • Whiplash injury to the Neck, Upper Back, Shoulders and Low Back
  • Tension and Migraine Headaches
  • TMJ Syndrome
  • Low Back Pain from Lifting or Work-Related Injuries
  • Postural Strain of the Neck and Back
  • Overuse Injuries such as Tennis Elbow, Shoulder Tendonitis, Achilles tendonitis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  •  Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain
  •  Sacroiliac Joint Disorders
  •  Muscle Tightness, Strain and Spasm
  • Arthritis Pain-Knee, Hands, Neck and Back
  •  Herniated and Degenerative Discs
  • Pinched Nerves and Sciatica
  • Weak, Loose, and Unstable Joints 
  • Athletic Injuries, New and Old

How Does Prolotherapy Work?

The problem:

When you have pain from an auto accident, athletic injury or overuse, it’s often due to damage in your soft tissues. These tissues – which include ligaments, muscles, tendons and joint capsules – are called “connective tissue” because they connect to your bones. Prolotherapy injections encourage these connections to repair, rebuild and strengthen. For that reason, it is sometimes called ligament reconstructive therapy or stimulated ligament repair. 

Reasons injuries don’t often heal properly on their own are poor blood supply or lack of proper care. When your ligaments don’t heal, they become loose which in turn reduces the stability of the joint they’re connected to. As a result, the surrounding muscles will start to compensate by going tight and spasming to stabilize the compromised joint. Muscle spasms can unfortunately reduce blood flow and cause your joints to tighten and hurt. 

You may also experience referred pain in your hands, arms or legs if you have muscular instability in your neck or back. In some cases referred neck pain can lead to Barre-Lieou syndrome with symptoms that include dizziness, blurring, loss of balance, ear ringing, runny nose, trouble swallowing and headache. If you experience any of these or deal with Barre-Lieou syndrome, prolotherapy could be a good course of treatment.

The treatment:A doctor injecting a prolotherapy solution into a woman's ankle.

To promote proper blood flow and accelerate healing, the doctor will inject a prolotherapy solution at the site(s) of your pain. By targeting the precise ligaments that are affected, prolotherapy injections can address very specific injuries. The injected solution stimulates your body’s natural healing mechanism to rebuild damaged tissue and make your connective tissue more supportive and less painful. 

What Is In A Prolotherapy Solution?

The solution we inject is safe, simple and effective. It contains two primary components: 

  • A naturally occurring sugar (dextrose) which is derived from corn. 
  • An anesthetic called lidocaine. 

This solution creates a reaction at the injury site and starts a three stage healing process.

It’s important to note that the prolotherapy solution does not contain cortisone. While many doctors use it to decrease inflammation, cortisone also slows healing. Cortisone may stop pain temporarily but it can further weaken your tissues and lead to chronic pain later on. 

What Happens During Your Procedure?

When performed by a skilled physician like Dr. John Odom, prolotherapy is very safe and complications rare. The most common side effects are temporary soreness, stiffness and occasional bruising.

Procedures are quick and relatively painless. Your procedure may take only a few minutes or up to a half hour depending on how large the affected area is and the number of injections you need. 

As with any procedure that involves needles, you may feel some discomfort. We apply a local anesthetic to reduce the pain of the injection. You can also take an oral prescription painkiller prior to your appointment. We do offer sedation but you will need a driver afterwards and most of our patients decline this option. 

Before your appointment you’ll want to eat something and drink plenty of water. Water improves your cell hydration and food will prevent dizziness.

What Happens After Your Injection?


Once you’ve started your series of injections, you’ll go through three stages of healing:

Inflammation: Contrary to common belief, inflammation is good. It is the result of your body increasing blood flow and sending cells to an injury site to clean the debris and damage.

Fibrolastic. A few days into treatment, repair cells called fibrolasts delivered from your injection go to work. They create a strong collagen that increases ligament strength by 40%. Stability begins to improve and spasms will decrease. 

Maturation: Once your ligaments become thicker with better density, they will mature. New blood vessels form and pain should decrease significantly. This may continue for up to three years. 

When Will I Feel The Benefits of Prolotherapy?

Typically you won’t feel relief right away but everyone is different. Significant, measurable relief usually occurs around 4-6 weeks into your treatment. Many patients report feeling better after their second treatment, others take longer.

A benefit of prolotherapy vs surgery or other treatments is that you can return to normal activities the day after. You may feel some tenderness immediately after your treatment but will be able to go to work or school within 24 hours. Return to activities as you are able to tolerate them.An athletic woman checks her ankle.

If you experience continued pain, heat can help soothe the site but cold will slow the healing process. Staying hydrated will also help. It’s important that you don’t take any anti-inflammatory medications once you begin treatment. They will interfere with your healing process.

How Successful Is Prolotherapy?

85-90% of patients report at least 50% prolotherapy pain relief after 2-10 sessions.  This is not an overnight cure but it is effective for most. It can have long term if not permanent results.

Prolotherapy’s strength is that it targets very specific types of chronic pain. With guided injections, Dr Odom can direct treatment to the exact location of your pain to strengthen the damaged tissues. If you reinjure the site after treatment is completed, we can treat it again. There are never any scars.

As your ligaments begin to stabilize, your strength will improve. Results will become increasingly noticeable and you’ll return to a more regular function. By performing controlled strength and mobility exercises, you’ll be able to accelerate your recovery even more. Odom’s team of specialists can create a program that matches your needs. We also encourage massage but not chiropractic care. 

Is Prolotherapy Covered By Insurance?

Unfortunately, most insurance companies still consider prolotherapy an “investigational” or “alternative” type of treatment. The exception is that auto insurance may cover the treatment if it is due to an injury.

We will discuss all fees and treatment costs as they relate to your insurance coverage with you before we begin. 

Talk to A Prolotherapy Doctor About Your Pain

When chronic pain becomes too much, you may feel like your options are limited. Prolotherapy is a safe, non surgical way to stimulate your body’s natural healing process. Through a series of injections over a period of many months, you can begin to feel true relief from chronic pain associated with aging, injury or overuse. Make an appointment with us today. We’d love to meet you at our Minnetonka clinic and help you experience real relief from chronic pain.