Prolotherapy for Knee Osteoarthritis


One study with 90 adults with knee osteoarthritis involved some participants getting monthly prolotherapy injections of dextrose for 3 to 5 months. Those who received prolotherapy saw a significant improvement in pain, function, and stiffness scores. This was true even after following up with 60 of these subjects over 2 years later.  Also, none of the subjects receiving prolotherapy reported adverse effects.

In addition, a systemic review of many studies on the use of prolotherapy determined there was reliable evidence based on 7 studies (including the 2 mentioned above) that it yields positive results for those with knee osteoarthritis.

Prolotherapy is low risk and unlikely to produce adverse effects, but pain and irritation can result immediately after the injection. Some doctors prescribe pain medication to help with post-injection pain.

How it works on my Knee?

There are several types of injections that can help relieve pain and stiffness for those with knee osteoarthritis. The most common injection option is cortisone (steroid), but there are several others too, including viscosupplementation and platelet-rich plasma(PRP) injections. 

Steroid injections can reduce swelling, heat, and redness, and in turn ease joint pain.

One option that's gaining attention for its positive outcomes and lack of side effects is prolotherapy. Prolotherapy, also known as proliferation or regenerative injection therapy, is based on an idea that runs counter to a common goal in arthritis treatment: to decrease inflammation. In fact, the goal of prolotherapy is to inject an irritant into the joint, which temporarily increases inflammation. This inflammatory response increases blood flow and stimulates new growth and healing in the damaged tissues.

The most commonly used irritant in a prolotherapy injection is dextrose, but substances like glycerine, lidocaine, or phenol may also be used.