Regenerative Injections Stimulate Greater Ligament Healing

September 12, 2017 in Our News & Bulletins by Primary Spine & Rehab

More thorough healing for ligaments

The condition of ligaments often goes overlooked in injury healing and joint problems. Ligaments are tough bands of fibrous connective tissue that connect bones. Because they have limited blood supply, they typically do not heal with the same efficiency as muscles, and often do not heal fully on their own. Exercise therapy may better strengthen ligaments compared to self-directed, gradual return to activity, but even then, the healing will likely be incomplete. The resulting loose ligaments can cause chronic pain, joint instability, cartilage damage, and even osteoarthritis.

Regenerative injections, also known as prolotherapy, offer a solution to the limited healing response of ligaments. Regenerative injections involve the injection of an irritant into the ends of ligaments and tendons. The therapy often uses dextrose (a simple sugar that occurs naturally in the body) as the irritant. The dextrose triggers a targeted, inflammatory healing cascade in the specific points of ligament weakness. The growth factors and collagen deposition of the healing response lead to ligament tissue remodeling, strengthening of new tissue, joint stability, decreased pain, and improved function. Prolotherapy done with physical therapy proves useful for ensuring new collagen lies down in functional patterns.

Studies find regenerative injections helpful for numerous patient complaints. In knee osteoarthritis, it doubles improvement in disability index scores, compared to exercise therapy alone. Research also shows these treatments improving outcomes in epicondylitis (tennis elbow), Achilles tendinopathy, groin pain, plantar fasciopathy, rotator cuff tendinopathy, Osgood-Schlatter disease, and much more.

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