Prolotherapy's side effects include mild stiffness, bruising, bleeding and post-injection pain, according to the National Institutes of Health. Rarer side effects include infections, headaches, nerve irritations and allergic reactions, Chiro-Medical Group, Inc. notes.
Prolotherapy is used as a treatment for chronic back and neck pain, according to Chiro-Medical Group, Inc. The procedure consists of injections, usually containing a concentrated sugar solution or other mild irritant, to injured tissue, provoking inflammation that triggers a healing response. Some injections include growth factors to strengthen the ligaments or tendons.
The injections are usually given over a period of months, with an end goal of permanent pain relief. Experiments demonstrate that prolotherapy is effective for promoting tissue growth and, in some cases, cartilage repair in lab animals. In 2010, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine ran clinical trials on prolotherapy's effectiveness for humans and concluded that results for treating painful overuse tendinopathy were encouraging.
Because prolotherapy is a non-surgical technique, it may be a more attractive option for patients looking for pain relief, Chiro-Medical Group, Inc. notes. Although the National Institutes of Health states that as of 2010, many insurance providers do not cover prolotherapy injections, prolotherapy has been recommended to patients since the 1930s, in part due to the low risk of side effects.