Dextrose prolotherapy for knee osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled trial.
PURPOSE Knee osteoarthritis is a common, debilitating chronic disease. Prolotherapy is an injection therapy for chronic musculoskeletal pain. We conducted a 3-arm, blinded (injector, assessor, injection group participants), randomized controlled trial to assess the efficacy of prolotherapy for knee osteoarthritis. METHODS Ninety adults with at least 3 months of painful knee osteoarthritis were randomized to blinded injection (dextrose prolotherapy or saline) or at-home exercise. Extra- and intra-articular injections were done at 1, 5, and 9 weeks with as-needed additional treatments at weeks 13 and 17. Exercise participants received an exercise manual and in-person instruction. Outcome measures included a composite score on the Western Ontario McMaster University Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC; 100 points); knee pain scale (KPS; individual knee), post-procedure opioid medication use, and participant satisfaction. Intention-to-treat analysis using analysis of variance was used. RESULTS No baseline differences existed between groups. All groups reported improved composite WOMAC scores compared with baseline status (P <.01) at 52 weeks. Adjusted for sex, age, and body mass index, WOMAC scores for patients receiving dextrose prolotherapy improved more (P <.05) at 52 weeks than did scores for patients receiving saline and exercise (score change: 15.3