by Matt Weik
For those of you who have been active all of your life—maybe through sports and athletics growing up, to even those of us who continue to live that healthy and active lifestyle to this day through regular exercise—we tend to have some aches and pains that we deal with, sometimes on a daily basis. Some of these aches and pains can stop us in our tracks and be debilitating. Others are the nagging dull pains that never seem to go away that are more of an annoyance than anything.
A common area that many of us notice some pain or discomfort is in our knees. Let’s face it, they take a beating over the years carrying us around from point A to point B. Some of us might even be carrying around a little extra weight as well. So, it makes sense that our knees might be showing the years of wear and tear finally. What do we normally do to remedy the situation? Well, we either go get it checked out by the doctor to ensure there aren’t any tears to the ligaments as well as making sure we don’t have any bone on bone rubbing taking place or we take some over the counter medication to help with the pain and inflammation. If something is found is found by the doctor or specialist, what’s the next step?
For many people, we try to hide our pain through the use of pain killers or anti-inflammatory prescriptions or over the counter drugs. Sometimes, this simply isn’t enough to make an individual comfortable. While there are different natural therapies that can be used prior to getting to the point of surgery, there seems to be a new alternative that is raising some eyebrows, and maybe even blood sugar levels—and that is sugar injections. Sure, we have all heard of athletes getting lubricant type injections to manage pain or injuries in joints through the use of corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid, but sugar?
Can I get a syringe full of Kit-Kat, please?
All joking aside, I could go for a Kit-Kat. But, researchers are now looking at injecting humans with sugar. I kid you not. And from the studies conducted, there have been no adverse side effects. Another point of interest is that being what’s injected is sugar or a mixture of sugar and sodium, the cost associated is extremely low and from what the researchers say, it’s fairly easy to administer to patients.
Researchers have looked at data collected from ten studies and found that injecting sugar or sodium into the knee might help with knee osteoarthritis. Generally, this is used as a last resort to conventional methods like therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs, but none the less, it’s on the table as an option. The process of injecting sugar and sodium into the body is known as prolotherapy and must be done by a trained professional such as a doctor or specialist. Please don’t try to make your own solution at home and try injecting it into a muscle, ligament, or tendon thinking you can create your own home remedy. There are risks involved and ones that should be mitigated through the use of a trained professional.
Does it really work?
The jury is still out and researchers are saying it’s too early to be saying prolotherapy is an effective way to manage conditions like osteoarthritis. They believe that while it could be added to the list of treatments, it definitely should not be the first on the list. Researchers are still recommending that in order to ease pain associated with conditions like osteoarthritis, the individual should focus on losing weight to lessen the pressure on the affected area such as the knee, go to physical therapy, and/or use anti-inflammatories to keep the pain and inflammation to a manageable range. Researchers are throwing prolotherapy towards the bottom of the list as an “if everything else fails” type of plan.
But does it work? According to participants in the studies, it does. They mentioned that they had less pain in the affected area, had an improvement in their range of motion, and had improved function when compared to before the prolotherapy injection.
The group of researchers looked at data from studies that had just under 530 subjects. What they found through the prolotherapy was that majority of the injections were made up of straight dextrose while only two of them had a combination of dextrose and sodium. Some of the dextrose only injections were also tested with anesthetics such as lidocaine included in the solution.
A downside to the study, in the eyes of the researchers, was that there was no measurement of how much change the injection made on the pain level. Participants simply said they noticed a difference. They also mentioned that they are going to need a larger group of participants since the groups in previous studies were fairly small. There was also no comparison of pain levels when compared to previous techniques such as weight loss, anti-inflammatory drug use, and physical therapy.
Researchers have mentioned that with knee osteoarthritis that “conservative therapies such exercises, physical therapy, oral analgesic medications and complementary therapies such as acupuncture and herbal treatment have marginal effectiveness. Studies are needed to conclude which injection therapy should be given higher priority in routine clinical care.”
With the jury still out on it’s true effectiveness, it’s best to try the other options available before trying prolotherapy. If all else fails, you can have the sugar injection in your back pocket if you need it as a last resort. With the buzz of this new pain management technique, you can bet we will see more research published in the very near future. Stay tuned!
Fox News. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2017/03/23/can-sugar-injections-help-ease-knee-joint-pain.html