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What are the risks and disadvantages of prolotherapy?

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Prolotherapy can accelerate the healing of acute ligament injuries and correction of ligament laxity resulting from an injury, according to physiotherapist Adam Meakins. However, prolotherapy has limited benefits for muscle, tendon and joint pains, and can encourage the deposition of soft collagen at the expense of stronger materials within joints.

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Prolotherapy can cause a 30 to 40 percent acceleration in recovery of acute ligament injuries, especially MCL and ATFL tears, estimates physiotherapist Adam Meakins. Several scientific studies have discussed the effects of these injections on cell proliferation and thickening of ligaments, but did not find prolotherapy to have significant effects on the strength or laxity of joints. Meakins comments that he does not believe in prolotherapy's effects on other types of injuries, specifically injuries to the lower back, facet joint and pubic symphysis.

Prolotherapy can possibly have harmful effects, adds Meakins. Some evidence has been found linking prolotherapy to allergic reactions and nerve damage, but these findings were not classified as serious. Long-term usage of prolotherapy can actually cause a weakening of joints, Meakins speculates. Soft type three collagen fibers have been found in the joints of long-term prolotherapy users. These fibers may have been deposited at the expense of the deposition of tough type one collagen, resulting in a less stable joint.

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