This is my own personal account after receiving two rounds of prolotherapy for SI joint dysfunction and a possible herniated disk over the past year. My account is not meant to be an endorsement of prolotherapy for everyone or all conditions. I am providing it in hopes that those who are suffering from the terrible pain of SI joint dysfunction can find some relief.
The past year and two months have been the post painful months of my life. I used to be a pretty active and fit person. I am 33 years old, lean and had engaged in light exercise semi-regularly, such as jogging or swimming, prior to the start of my SI joint pain. When my SI pain began in November of 2017, it emerged in slow onset on my right side. It felt like tightness and tenderness, but for some reason it didn’t return to normal and became progressively worse week by week. It became exacerbated when I bent down to lift something up and further injured the area. After 4 months of seeing two different physical therapists and countless hours of online research, it was clear I was not getting any better, only worse. I was unable to sit or lay down without severe discomfort. Walking was one of the only things that brought relief, but walking in excess also brought pain. Due to the shooting nerve pain, my muscles became extremely tight and I also developed achilles tendinitis first in one achilles and then the other. I’m guessing this occurred because I would sleep curled up in a tight ball, the only position I could tolerate without excessive pain.
In the Spring of 2017 I received a round of dextrose prolotherapy from an experienced sports medicine doctor in NYC who has treated patients with prolotherapy for 40 years. Some people report that the injections are very painful, but I was in so much pain that the needle did not feel too painful to me. This doctor told me that healing takes 6-8 weeks to begin because prolotherapy works by irritating the damaged tissues and ligaments, catalyzing the damaged area to heal correctly. (One thing to note about this 6-8 week timeline is that in my research, most online resources recommended a second round of injections after only 4 weeks, this doctor was clear that one should wait a full 6-8 weeks before considering a second round so the damaged tissues have a chance to heal first.) All I can say is that for me it worked. The incredible pain I was in gradually began to feel better, bit by bit. Over the summer I was even able to do some bicycling and hiking up a small mountain, something there is no way I could have done prior. I was probably 80% better, and feeling optimistic about life again.
Then in the fall I slowly started feeling tightness on the OPPOSITE hip, the one that was previously pain free. (I was later told this shift from one hip to the other was a telltale sign of SI joint dysfunction) It was immediately alarming because the onset of tightness on my left hip reminded me exactly of the onset of tightness I experienced in my right hip nearly a year earlier. I again went back to physical therapy, and again my symptoms only got worse. Since I live in Western NY, and it’s not always easy for me to get to NYC, I saw two other sports medicine doctors. One well respected sports medicine doctor had me get an MRI and diagnosed me with a herniated disk, but said I could be experiencing SI joint pain as well. The other doctor (another prolotherapy physician) agreed with the NYC doctor’s SI joint dysfunction diagnosis. For whatever it’s worth, both prolotherapy doctors really believe in prolotherapy and the results they told me they had seen it bring to patients. They seemed genuinely interested in the truth and finding ways to help people. I’m thankful there are still doctors like this.
Meanwhile with only physical therapy my pain was getting worse and worse, and I could not sleep in bed without extreme pain. I started sleeping on the floor because it gave me more stability. Walking, sitting and laying down were very painful. At this point I’d been diagnosed with chronic SI joint dysfunction because I had been in significant pain on and off for over a year. (Not counting the 4 months or so of reduced pain after round 1 of prolotherapy) I realized I needed to try prolotherapy again, so when I was in NYC for work I received a second round of dextrose prolotherapy, this time on my left hip. Again, the doctor told me to wait 6-8 weeks for healing to begin. This time I felt about 30% better right away, but about 4-5 weeks in I began experiencing the worst pain of my life. For a few days I could not even walk the few steps to the bathroom because my leg was so weak and I was in so much pain. I called the doctor and he told me that this is rare, but that the pain should get better. Dextrose prolotherapy after all is very safe, it’s literally just sugar water. I used some lidocaine patches at night which helped a lot with the pain and allowed me to sleep.
Then, after about 6-7 weeks, my pain started getting better week by week. It’s now been 9 weeks since round 2 of prolotherapy and I am 60-80% better than before receiving round 2 and feel I am still healing. Today I lifted a 50-pound object in my basement with no pain, and I am now regularly taking 30-minute walks. I plan on getting another round of injections with the hope of getting 100% better, but honestly if I could keep my pain at its current level I would be happy. It is so much better than it was and I feel good, I’m very grateful to have received such dramatic improvements after both prolotherapy treatments.
I hope this account is of use to someone else who is struggling with the difficulties of chronic pain and hope that they too may find some healing.