Prolotherapy as an Alternative to Surgery: A Prospective Pilot Study of 34 Patients from a Private Medical Practice

Hauser R, Hauser M, Baird N, Martin D. Prolotherapy as an alternative to surgery: a prospective pilot study of 34 patients from a private medical practice. Journal of Prolotherapy. 2010;(2)1:272-281.


Thirty-four patients with average musculoskeletal pain duration of 27 months who were told by their medical doctor/surgeon that surgery was needed, including 20 joint replacements and nine arthroscopic procedures, were treated with Hackett-Hemwall dextrose Prolotherapy in lieu of surgery. Patients were followed prospectively and asked questions regarding levels of pain, stiffness, and other physical and psychological symptoms, as well as questions related to activities of daily living before and after their last Prolotherapy treatment.

In this study, Prolotherapy caused a statistically significant improvement in their pain and stiffness. The average starting level of pain was 7.6 and stiffness 7.2, but after Prolotherapy they decreased to 1.3 and 2.5 respectively. Ninety-one percent of patients felt Prolotherapy gave them 50% or greater pain relief, and 71% felt the pain relief was greater than 75%.

Upon interview, an average of 10 months after their last Prolotherapy session, this study revealed improvement in patients’ quality of life parameters in addition to pain and stiffness including depression, anxiety, medication usage, as well as range of motion, sleep and exercise ability. Seventy-nine percent felt they had enough pain relief with Prolotherapy that they will not now or in the future need surgery. Four of the remaining seven patients noted 50% or greater pain relief from the Prolotherapy and plan on getting more Prolotherapy in the future.

In this study, Prolotherapy was able to eliminate the need for surgery realistically in 31 out of 34 patients. If Prolotherapy could eliminate 80% of musculoskeletal surgeries in the United States, this procedure alone could make a tremendous dent in cost savings to Medicare, private insurers, and patients. This does not include the money that is lost from productivity and additional expenses that accompany surgery such as future or revision surgeries, rehabilitation, physiotherapy, medications, or disability (from continued pain). Prolotherapy does not have the risks associated with surgery. Often patients can immediately return to work after receiving Prolotherapy. Since results with Prolotherapy are often permanent, no future treatments are needed. These are reasons enough for patients to consider a Prolotherapy evaluation before undergoing a musculoskeletal surgery.

As this pilot study found such significant improvements in these participants with chronic musculoskeletal pain who were told that surgery was needed, further studies under more controlled circumstances, with larger patient populations, should be done.

Read full Article | Download PDF | Back to Research