Risks With Prolotherapy


Ross A. Hauser, M.D.

Every medical procedure has risks - but so does living with chronic pain!          
Let’s look at some of the risks when a person lives with chronic pain. 

Risks associated with living with chronic pain:

  1. Being miserable
  2. Going into financial ruin because of an inability to work
  3. Having incredible stress
  4. Not sleeping
  5. Ruined overall health
  6. Marriage collapse
  7. Developing additional health problems due to toll the pain is taking on the body
  8. The collapse of the family
  9. Never being able to enjoy sports again
  10. Loosing the ability to be independent
  11. Never running again
  12. Never being able to take long walks
  13. Possible addiction to pain medications
  14. Decreased ability to travel due to restrictions in movement
  15. Increased weight due to immobility

The risks of living with chronic pain are enormous.  I did not talk about just losing the ability to enjoy life.  The ability to enjoy life is being lost every day a person suffers from pain.  Chronic pain often leads to host of other medical conditions including depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, chronic fatigue, hormonal deficiencies and many others.  The psychological toll it takes on the person and their family and friends is enormous.  So what is the person to do?

The person can opt for a host of treatments including chiropractic manipulation, physiotherapy, osteopathy, acupuncture, hypnosis, herbs, vitamins, exercise, massage, electrical stimulation, pain pills, surgery, arthroscopy, cortisone shots, trigger point shots, nerve blocks and many others.   All treatments have potential benefits and potential risks. 

Prolotherapy, like all invasive medical procedures carries risks.  Here are some of the risks:

Because Prolotherapy causes inflammation, the person will often note some bruising, pain, stiffness and swelling in the area after receiving Prolotherapy.  Typically this lasts 1 to 7 days.   On rare occasions it lasts longer.  Lasting longer is not necessarily bad, some people just inflame more easily.  Since the treatment works by inflammation, lingering pain after Prolotherapy can be a sign of healing.  If the pain is severe after Prolotherapy, then call the office where the Prolotherapy was done.  Prolotherapy should not cause excessive, severe pain.   Severe pain after Prolotherapy, especially accompanied by a fever, could indicate an infection. Infection after Prolotherapy is the most serious risk that we have seen.  

The risk of infection after Prolotherapy is between 1 and 1000 to 1 and 10,000 procedures.  The most common infection with Prolotherapy is an infection in the skin. This type of infection typically responds to an antibiotic taken by mouth.  If a joint or blood infection results, then intravenous antibiotics will typically be needed for six weeks.  

Since some of the risks with Prolotherapy relate to the actual technique done, it is important to go to a clinic with a lot of experience.  Surely a doctor can stick a needle into a nerve, ligament, or tendon and cause injury.  A doctor can stick the needle into the lung when doing the thoracic vertebrae or ribs.  A doctor could also stick the needle into the spinal canal when doing any area of the spine and cause a cerebrospinal fluid leak.  This is known as a spinal headache (which is a headache when you sit up).   The risks of these side effects are rare, but do occur.

In the entire history of Caring Medical, I know of one patient who had a puncture of the lung who needed hospitalization.  She refused to go to the hospital after I recognized the problem because someone had to take care of her dog.  One of my staff volunteered to watch her dog, and this patient was in the hospital for only two days.  She continued to be a client of Caring Medical.  

I have taken care of numerous customers from around the country who come to Caring Medical because they have experienced a puncture of the lung from another office.  None of these clients had a puncture of the lung after I did the Prolotherapy.  But I did tell the clients that just because they received a puncture of the lung in the past, does not mean the technique of Prolotherapy was bad.  Everyone’s anatomy is different.  Surely if a lung rides high (above first rib) or if a nerve is in an unusual spot, these structures can be hit even though the Prolotherapy technique was good. 

There are risks associated with everything you put into your body. All you have to do is look up any of the risks for any of the anti-inflammatory medications (even over-the-counter medications) and realize even taking them can cause serious risks.   For me, I have had numerous Prolotherapy sessions and have treated many family members and friends.  I understand that every procedure has risks, but so does not having the procedures.   Compared to surgery, Prolotherapy in my opinion is much safer, and in most instances, a better option, with far less risks.   I desire not to have chronic pain.   I understand living with pain carries its own risk.  For me, the potential benefits of Prolotherapy far outweigh the risks.  If you continue to suffer with chronic pain or a painful condition is limiting your ability to do the things you want to do, I recommend that you seriously consider Prolotherapy.