Dextrose prolotherapy in knee osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Clin Orthop Trauma. 2021 May 20:19:108-117. doi: 10.1016/j.jcot.2021.05.015. eCollection 2021 Aug.


Objective: To summarize the evidence for dextrose prolotherapy in knee osteoarthritis.

Data sources: The authors searched PubMed and Embase from inception to September 2020. All publications in the English language were included without demographic limits.

Study selection: Randomized clinical trials comparing the effects of any active interventions or placebo versus dextrose prolotherapy in patients with knee osteoarthritis were included.

Data extraction: Potential articles were screened for eligibility, and data was extracted independently. The risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. Meta-analysis was performed on clinical trials with similar parameters. The Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy (SORT) was used for evaluating the strength of recommendations.

Data synthesis: In total, eleven articles (n = 837 patients) met the search criteria and were included. The risk-of-bias analysis revealed two studies to be of low risk. The overall effectiveness was calculated using a meta-analysis method. Prolotherapy was no different from platelet-rich plasma on the pain subscale at the 6-month time point. Prolotherapy was inferior to platelet-rich plasma at 6 months (MD 0.45, 95% CI 0.06-0.85, p = 0.03) on the stiffness subscale. Prolotherapy was found to be safe with no major adverse effects.

Conclusion: Prolotherapy in knee osteoarthritis confers potential benefits for pain but the studies are at high risk of bias. Based on two well-designed studies, dextrose prolotherapy may be considered in knee osteoarthritis (strength of recommendation B). This treatment is safe and may be considered in patients with limited alternative options (strength of recommendation C).

Keywords: Dextrose prolotherapy; Knee; Meta-analysis; Osteoarthritis; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review