Association Between Disease-Specific Quality of Life and Magnetic Resonance Imaging Outcomes in a Clinical Trial of Prolotherapy for Knee Osteoarthritis

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Family Medicine, Madison WI 53715. Electronic address: .
Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation (Impact Factor: 2.57). 07/2013; 94(11). DOI: 10.1016/j.apmr.2013.06.025
Source: PubMed


To assess the relationship between knee osteoarthritis (KOA)-specific quality-of-life (QoL) and intra-articular cartilage volume (CV) in participants treated with prolotherapy. KOA is characterized by CV loss and multifactorial pain. Prolotherapy is an injection therapy reported to improve KOA-related QoL compared to blinded saline injections and at-home exercise but the mechanism of action is unknown.
Two-arm (Prolotherapy, Control), partially blinded, controlled trial.
Outpatient. Participants: 37 adults with ≥3 months of symptomatic KOA.
Prolotherapy: 5 monthly injection sessions; Control: blinded saline injections or at-home exercise.
Primary: KOA-specific QoL scores (baseline, 5, 9, 12, 26, 52 weeks; Western Ontario McMaster University Osteoarthritis Index, WOMAC). Secondary: KOA-specific pain, stiffness, function (WOMAC subscales), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-assessed CV (baseline, 52 weeks).
Knee-specific QoL improvement among Prolotherapy participants exceeded that of Controls (17.6±3.2 versus 8.6±5.0 points, p=0.05) at 52 weeks. Both groups lost CV over time (p<0.05); no between-group differences were noted (p=0.98). While Prolotherapy participants lost CV at varying rates, those who lost the least CV ("Stable CV") had the greatest improvement in pain scores. Among Prolotherapy, but not Control participants, the change in CV and the change in pain (but not stiffness or function) scores were correlated; each 1% CV loss was associated with 2.7% less improvement in pain score (p<0.05).
Prolotherapy resulted in safe, substantial improvement in KOA-specific QoL compared to Control over 52-weeks. Among prolotherapy participants, but not Controls, MRI-assessed CV change (CV stability) predicted pain severity score change, suggesting prolotherapy may have pain-specific disease-modifying effect. Further research is warranted.

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    • "Although cartilage volume increases after each prolotherapy session and will remain increased for a time, it decreases over time, which has a significant correlation with the pain subscales of the WOMAC score [Rabago et al. 2013a]. Therefore, it is possible that with longer follow up, we would observe similar improvements to those reported by others. "
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