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Prolotherapy: Part 1

January 27, 2010

Bonjour mes amis! I wanted to share my prolotherapy experience with you guys in hopes that someone looking for this information (or reassurance!) will be able to find it.

*Please don’t continue reading if you are squeamish!!

If you would like to read the chronicle of my injury, refer to “My Ankle: Part 1” but if you don’t really care about the specifics (TOTALLY don’t blame you!!), it boils down to this:

I was a runner, I developed tendonitis, I continued to run on it, I developed slight tears in my tibial posterior tendon after a race, I went to physical therapy and stopped running but nothing helped and the pain continued to increase. I was put in a cast for the summer in hopes to heal the injury but it actually made the other ankle worse (developed tendonitis in posterior tibial of right ankle, just like my left.) Went to a surgeon, found out the reason for the reoccurring tendonitis is the odd shape of my foot (my arch collapses). Wore orthotics for months and months, no improvement, surgeon wanted to reconstruct my foot, I wanted to explore other options.

Enter: prolotherapy.

Prolotherapy involved a series of injections containing lidocaine and glucose. The glucose serves to inflame the tendons and add (in doctor Marsha’s words) “elasticity” to the ligaments and tendons. It will strengthen them and protect those areas in the future.

The therapy is a common treatment for athletes and many times is a last resort for patients of tendon or ligament injuries that won’t heal (ME!).

We arrived at around 5:00 and the doctor took time to talk to me about the injections and what to expect. I had previously watched this video on YouTube (Bad, Bad move! Don’t click if you’re considering this!) so I was quite anxious. She explained that the needles will go in and inject a little of the lidocaine/sugar solution into each of the problem spots to numb then she will basically retrace her steps and inject the solution deeper in each of the areas.

She felt my ankle for a while putting pressure on the spots I always have pain in. She said she usually feels for the “grain of rice” that has developed on the tendon after injury or chronic inflammation.

Mine were more difficult to feel because the bones of my feet are so tiny that everything feels somewhat similar. When she pushed on particularly tender areas, I just said “yes” so those were the ones she marked.

I laid back and turned on my Latin American pop (thank you Justo Llamas!!!) When the needle is about to go in, she stretches the skin around the area (this is the warning sign.)

The shots felt like just that: shots. Seriously no big deal! If you’ve ever gotten novacaine before, these initial injections were very similar.

When she went back through to add more solution to each area, you can still feel the pinch of the  injection but then if just feels like she’s pumping air into the sight. Not bad!

It didn’t take too long, she was done in about 3 minutes. I actually heard a crackle with some of the injections and she said that was a great thing, it means they found injury! It bleeds very little and then the doctor will clean you up and put band-aids on if it continues to bleed.

Do you get grossed out by feet? If so don’t look:

my foot right after prolotherapy

This was the inside of my foot right after the shots. A little swollen, (note the lump sticking out!!).

Promptly after I took this photo of my foot I passed out cold. I have no idea what it was, and I’ve never had that reaction to needles. My mother freaked out of course, and thought the shots had killed me (or something along those lines!) I woke up a few minutes later and thought the whole thing was a dream and we had to start from scratch.

Not the case! I had to lay down for 20 more minutes so I wouldn’t pass out again (hmf.) and I felt really nauseous, but the ankle felt absolutely fine. When I was allowed up, it felt weird to put pressure on my foot because it was still numb, but there wasn’t a lot of pain.

She prescribed Tylenol 3 (with codeine) for pain after and she said if it was mild, just take extra strength Tylenol and if the pain was more intense take either one extra strength and one 3 or two 3’s.

When I got done, we went out to pick up sushi, drove around for a while and then I did some homework and answered e-mails when I got home. Still no pain!

The day after, my ankle felt similar to how it does when I’m on it a full day- sore and a little achy. Nothing I’m not used to.

I didn’t need one pain killer she prescribed. I was quite amazed- the procedure seemed so much easier than I originally thought!!

The pain verdict: If you have daily pain bad enough to warrant prolotherapy, this is a walk in the park. It really is no big deal! I would give the actual injections a 4.5/10 on the pain scale.

Tips for first time prolotherapy patients:

  • Don’t take NSAIDS (Advil, Aleve, Celebrex or Ibuprofen, Naproxen Sodium, etc.) the day of the procedure
  • Don’t take NSAIDS for at least 3 days after the injections
  • Do bring your iPod loaded with music (preferably Latin American ;-)) to distract yourself
  • Don’t bring anyone into the room that has even a little chance of becoming queasy
  • Don’t try to take photos of your newly inflamed injection site. You just may pass out! 😉
  • Do bring another pair of shoes (I brought Ugg-style slippers) because your foot may not fit in your original shoe.
  • Plan on cross training for the next few days if you’re an athlete. The injection site is susceptible right after the procedure, and too much stress could cause damage.

Prolotherapy: Part 2 will go into detail about the week after and the results.


On a completely unrelated note, I’m working on a persuasive paper about college athletes receiving payment/compensation. Does anyone have any strong opinions or resources? I appreciate it!! (Leave a comment or e-mail me: 😀

22 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2010 7:18 am

    Yikes! That therapy sounds very intense. I hope you are continuing to heal!

  2. Rachel permalink
    January 27, 2010 7:29 am

    I suppose if you’re living with frequent/constant pain, getting a few needles in your foot isn’t a big deal, but… I can’t even imagine. It freaks me out just thinking about it 😯

  3. January 27, 2010 7:46 am

    This is so interesting! I have never been injured, thankfully, but I can’t imagine how much it stinks!

  4. January 27, 2010 8:05 am

    Wow – you are one tough little gal Mae. Seriously I admire you tremendously – about everything – I am about 10 years older than u…but I feel u are a good kind of “friend” to have.

  5. January 27, 2010 10:26 am

    Whoa, I’m getting goosebumps. You must be incredibly brave to endure all this, my dear!
    I don’t have any opinion on school scholarships and stuff…but I know our USC football team has a lot of scholarships, despite their grades. Maybe you can contact the football team and see if you can score an interview over email with one of them?

  6. January 27, 2010 11:25 am

    You are one tough cookie! I hate shots of any kind, let alone multiples in one locations. I’m anxious to hear how this therapy helps you!
    Good luck on the paper. I would love to offer some insight, but as a non-athlete, I can’t offer much. I do work with a couple of former college athletes and have heard stories about how demanding it is to play full-time and keep up with the class loads. It seems to be more work to be a college athlete than I thought it was.

  7. January 27, 2010 12:28 pm

    I hope this works for you! I can’t imagine having gone through that. Will you be able to do pool running or anything like that on your foot?
    Whenever I can’t run, I head to the deep end and then run back and forth in the pool- great alternative zero impact workout.

    Throwing it out there. Hope you’re feeling a little less queasy now!

  8. January 28, 2010 12:58 am

    I’m sorry to hear about your injury!! It’s only been a little over a month for me with not being able to run due to an injury and I can’t imagine how awful it must be for you by now!

    But i’m so glad it went well and I hope that it really helps!!!

  9. January 28, 2010 2:42 am

    Aww, your ankle story sounds like such a runner’s nightmare! I hope prolotherapy works for you!!

  10. 5280racer permalink
    February 2, 2010 1:11 pm

    You should consider bicycle racing… road, mountain, track, cyclocross, etc. Distance running is quite damaging to ankles and feet. Not to mention for girls, the toes can get grotesque right quick. Distance cycling has its risks, beyond crashes, is bone density loss, which happens to many and they don’t realize it. Lots of weight bearing exercise, hiking, and walking for cross training, plus attention to calcium and vitamin D levels is important. Give your feet a break try pedaling instead. 🙂

  11. February 22, 2010 10:59 am

    Oh this is super cool to read about especially since we are studying modalities right now in Occupational Therapy school. I have learned about A LOT of tendon surgeries/treatments but this one is completely new to me. We deal with hands (carpal tunnel, wrist tendonitis, hand fractures, ect) much more than feet (we like to give those to PT) so maybe thats why we did not learn it. Anyways very interesting to read. I cannot wait to hear the results. Most of those types of treatments work very well for some people and not so well for others. I hope yours is the first!

  12. deborah doucen permalink
    October 28, 2010 7:01 am

    Best thing I ever done in my life! Chronic pain in my ankle for 5 years- had gotten to the point i could hardly walk around my own home- needless to say shopping for food was out. Was up and off walking like nothing you have ever seen the very next day after the first treatment and have had 2 treatments since and on my feet 10-15 hours a day now- this procedure saved my life! Dont do surgery until you see a prolotherpist FIRST! I am so grateful I did not have ankle fusion first.

    • Casey permalink
      January 14, 2012 8:39 am

      When you say ankle pain – where exactly are you talking about? How long did it really take you to get up and going? Did you slowly increase your level of activity?

      • deborah doucen permalink
        September 27, 2013 7:02 am

        Had shots at 5pm on tuesday, Wednesday morning when my feet hiť the floor, i was off and been on my feet ever since. Its been 2 years now and i havent had a set of shots in almost a year….still doing great.

  13. Denise Giacoppo permalink
    October 30, 2010 3:16 am

    I had my first prolotherapy treatment 10 days ago and have a lot of pain. I would love to hear about your experience. I have the same problem PTTD tendonosis , for one year now. Thank and God bless.

    • deborah doucen permalink
      February 3, 2011 11:24 pm

      I have since had two more treatments- i call it my personal miracle- walking strong everyday- may go back for one more short in the next 4 months, have been going 3 months between treatments- for the price ($200.00) i tell everyone to try it first before surgery- anyone welcome to contact me at for information- i have before and after pics that people dont believe what they see!

  14. Mercedes Harden permalink
    April 6, 2012 8:51 pm

    I am going to have my first prolo injection today in my hip, at first the doctor told me I needed a hip replacement but after the x-ray said that prolo would do the trick. funny thing is that it is not my hip that hurts but my knee, I have been walking down stairs one foot at a time for years. I hope it works, stay tuned…….


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