The Effects of Dextrose Prolotherapy in Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Study

J Altern Complement Med. 2020 May;26(5):409-417. doi: 10.1089/acm.2019.0335. Epub 2020 Mar 30.


Objective: To investigate the effects of dextrose prolotherapy in patients with knee osteoarthritis (KOA). Design: A prospective, randomized-controlled interventional trial. Setting: An outpatient pain medicine clinic. Participants: The study included 66 patients aged 40-70 years with chronic knee pain refractory to conservative therapy and diagnosed as grade II or III KOA according to the Kellgren-Lawrence classification. The patients were assigned to dextrose prolotherapy group (PG; n = 22), saline group (SG; n = 22), or control group (CG; n = 22). Interventions: The intra- and extra-articular dextrose prolotherapy and saline injections were administered to the PG and SG, respectively, at 0, 3, and 6 weeks. The patients were blinded to their injection group status. A home-based exercise program was prescribed for all patients in all three groups. Outcome measures: The Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) scores, activity pain, stiffness severity measured using a visual analog scale (VAS), and the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) scores measured using the Short Form-36 (SF-36) subscales were recorded at the baseline, 6-week, and 18-week follow-ups. Results: The WOMAC-pain and VAS-activity pain scores decreased significantly in the PG compared to the SG (p = 0.002 and p < 0.001, respectively) and CG (p < 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively) at 18 weeks. The WOMAC-stiffness scores decreased in the PG compared to the CG at 18 weeks (p < 0.001). The WOMAC physical functioning scores were improved in the PG compared to the CG at 18 weeks (p < 0.001). The physical component scores of the HRQoL were significantly improved in the PG compared to the CG at 18 weeks (p = 0.016), but the mental component scores of the HRQoL showed no significant differences. Conclusions: These findings suggest that dextrose prolotherapy is effective at reducing pain and improving the functional status and quality of life in patients with KOA.

Keywords: dextrose; knee osteoarthritis; pain; prolotherapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Glucose / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prolotherapy / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life


  • Glucose