OBJECTIVES: Prolotherapy or proliferative therapy is a treatment option for damaged connective tissues involving the injection of a solution (proliferant) which theoretically causes an initial cell injury and a subsequent "proliferant" process of wound healing via modulation of the inflammatory process. Nonetheless, the benefits of dextrose prolotherapy have not been adequately evaluated. Therefore, the present study assesses the effectiveness and superiority of prolotherapy separately in treating dense fibrous connective tissue injuries. METHODS: PubMed, Scopus, and Embase were searched from the earliest record to February 18, 2019. This study included randomized controlled trials whichBoth analysis at individual studies level and pooled meta-analysis were performed. RESULTS: Ten trials involving 358 participants were included for review. At study level, the majority of comparisons did not reveal significant differences between dextrose prolotherapy and no treatment (or placebo) regarding pain control. The meta-analysis showed dextrose prolotherapy was effective in improving activity only at immediate follow-up (i.e., 0-1 month) (standardized mean difference [SMD]: 0.98; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.40-1.50; I = 0%); and superior to corticosteroid injections only in pain reduction at short-term follow-up (i.e., 1-3 month) (SMD: 0.70; 95% CI: 0.14-1.27; I = 51%). No other significant SMDs were found in this analysis. CONCLUSIONS: There is insufficient evidence to support the clinical benefits of dextrose prolotherapy in managing dense fibrous tissue injuries. More high-quality randomized controlled trials are warranted to establish the benefits of dextrose prolotherapy. REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO (CRD42019129044).
ASJC Scopus subject areas