Prolotherapy, or proliferation therapy, is a treatment in which an irritant solution is injected into a joint, ligament, or tendon to alleviate pain. As of now, prolotherapy is still considered to be an alternative medicine therapy that hasn’t been recognized by the FDA or other American medical institutions as a safe and effective medical treatment.
The idea of prolotherapy, which is thousands of years old, is that the injections promote self-repair of the injured body part. The two most common types of irritant solutions used in prolotherapy are made of dextrose (sugar) or saline (salt). Injecting one of these solutions is said to treat certain conditions like:
- Tendon, muscle, or ligament issues
- Degenerative disc disease
- Certain types of headaches
- Sprains or other similar injuries
- Weak or stiff joints
Prolotherapy practitioners report that injecting the irritant solutions into the injured or damaged body part promotes new tissue growth, and helps patients in the following ways:
- Reduction of pain
- Reduction of joint stiffness
- Improvement in joint strength, function, and mobility
- Increased ligament strength
While some patients report that prolotherapy helps alleviate pain, scientists and medical research can’t explain how these injections work or whether they’re safe. If you’re thinking about trying prolotherapy, you should do research and discuss your options with your physician.
Does Medicare cover prolotherapy treatments?
In 1999, prolotherapy was reviewed by Medicare to determine whether it was a safe and effective therapy to be used as a treatment for conditions such as chronic low back pain. The Medicare reviewers determined that it was an experimental therapy and there wasn’t enough scientific evidence to include it in Medicare coverage.
Even though Medicare doesn’t include prolotherapy treatments in its coverage as of now, it has agreed to review these types of treatments in the future if there are further studies that can prove their safety and effectiveness.
How much do prolotherapy treatments cost without Medicare coverage?
The national average cost for one prolotherapy injection is approximately $155. How much you pay in total depends on your individual treatment plan including the location of your injury, the number of injections, and where you are treated.
The number of injections you need depends on your condition, but prolotherapy practitioners typically recommend three to six injections to treat joint inflammation and five to ten injections to treat facial nerve pain.
Many medical professionals don’t recommend prolotherapy treatments because they don’t have enough proof that they work. However, it’s a good idea to discuss the pros and cons of getting these treatments with your doctor before going ahead with them.