The sacroiliac joint is one of the most important joints in the body in terms of supporting one’s full weight in a standing position. We humans actually have two such joints, one on each side of the pelvis. If one suffers an injury, the result can be debilitating pain. Now, some doctors are recommending prolotherapy. But is it an appropriate treatment for the sacroiliac joint injury?
A 2010 study from the University of Notre Dame in Sydney, Australia suggests it is. That study looked at prolotherapy injections in twenty-five patients over the course of three years. The majority of patients reported improvements in both joint function and pain level. Despite the remarkable results, prolotherapy still has its skeptics.
More About Prolotherapy
Lone Star Pain Medicine is a Weatherford, TX pain clinic (https://lonestarpain.com/) that often recommends prolotherapy for soft tissue injuries and musculoskeletal diseases that don’t respond well to traditional treatments. They explain prolotherapy as a treatment designed to encourage the body to heal itself.
The human body is designed to respond to injury by initiating healing functions. When an injury occurs, the building blocks for healing are sent to the site where repair work begins. However, there are times when this process either doesn’t occur or occurs too slowly. Prolotherapy acts to jump-start things, so to speak.
Prolotherapy is an injection therapy that utilizes a number of components to accomplish two things. First, an anesthetic provides temporary pain relief. Second, the rest of the components in the medicine purposely cause inflammation. Why would doctors do this? Because inflammation triggers the healing response.
It is interesting that Western medicine seeks to reduce inflammation rather than allow it to run its natural course. We might be our own worst enemies in promoting natural healing through this strategy. Perhaps reducing inflammation isn’t always a good idea. But back to the main point.
What the Research Revealed
Getting back to the 2010 study, researchers specifically wanted to know if prolotherapy would have any effect on sacroiliac joint load transfer deficiency. Each of the twenty-five participants was evaluated for joint function and pain level at the beginning of the study. Next, each received three prolotherapy injections spaced six weeks apart. Finally, each participated in follow-up at 3, 12, or 24 months. At least one follow-up visit was required.
Patients at all three follow up periods reported improvement:
- 76% reported improvement at 3 months
- 76% reported improvement at 12 months
- 32% reported improvement at 24 months.
The study demonstrated that prolotherapy does increase function and reduce pain associated with sacroiliac joint injury. But it also demonstrated that the effects of prolotherapy appear to diminish over time. This would suggest that a patient suffering from chronic sacroiliac joint pain might need to undergo annual injections if prolotherapy is the chosen course of action.
Not a Guaranteed Treatment
It should be noted that prolotherapy is not a guaranteed treatment for any type of soft tissue injury or musculoskeletal disease. Like all treatments, prolotherapy doesn’t work for everyone. And even among those who do experience pain relief with the treatment, the amount of relief differs from one person to the next.
Prolotherapy has proven effective over the years. Between scientific studies and patient reports, it is pretty clear that this particular treatment can be an effective alternative to long-term pain medications, invasive surgeries, and other less attractive treatment options.
The fact that prolotherapy works are compelling evidence that we should continue developing other regenerative medicine therapies. If nothing else, prolotherapy has demonstrated that encouraging the body to heal itself is a strategy worth pursuing in earnest.