Try our beta test site
IMPORTANT: Listing of a study on this site does not reflect endorsement by the National Institutes of Health. Talk with a trusted healthcare professional before volunteering for a study. Read more...

Prolotherapy Versus Epidural Steroid Injections (ESI) for Lumbar Pain Radiating to the Leg

This study is currently recruiting participants. (see Contacts and Locations)
Verified August 2016 by Hadassah Medical Organization
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
WENDE OSNAT, Hadassah Medical Organization Identifier:
First received: August 30, 2013
Last updated: August 15, 2016
Last verified: August 2016
The hypothesis is that in the treatment of low back pain (LBP) radiating to the leg, the long term results of prolotherapy are more effective than those of the current conventional treatment: epidural steroid injections (ESI). This research will examine the efficacy of prolotherapy injections versus epidural steroid injections for the treatment of low back pain radiating to the leg. This is a randomized, unblinded study, in which patients seen in the principle investigator's pain clinic will be randomly divided to receive treatments from either the experimental, prolotherapy group, or the active control, ESI group.

Condition Intervention Phase
Spinal Stenosis of Lumbar Region
Degeneration of Lumbar or Lumbosacral Intervertebral Disc
Drug: prolotherapy solution of 20% dextrose
Drug: Epidural Steroid Injection
Early Phase 1

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: A Comparison of the Long Term Outcomes of Prolotherapy Versus Interlaminar Epidural Steroid Injections (ESI) for Lumbar Pain Radiating to the Leg

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Hadassah Medical Organization:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Numerical Rating Scale [ Time Frame: 17 months ]
    Prior to the first treatment session, patients from both groups will fill out a questionnaire (described later) which will begin with an added item at the beginning: the NRS (numerical rating scale) score. This is to ascertain the intensity of pain he or she suffers in the lower back and or leg. This is a score given between 0 and 10 to estimate the subjective level of pain felt. 10 is a score given to the worst possible imaginable pain, and 0 is no pain at all. At 4 points in time: 1, 3, 6 and 12 months after the last treatment session, patients will be telephoned by a nurse trained in pain to assess pain level according to NRS score. The nurse will be an independent and unbiased investigator. Because patients often suffer from several sorts of pain, it must be stressed to the patients that what is being measured is the very same pain that the patient came to be treated for initially, and not another area which may have developed pain at some later point in time.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Oswestry Back Disability Questionnaire Score [ Time Frame: 17 months ]
    At the same times as being asked about the NRS score, patients will be interviewed and the Oswestry Back Disability Questionnaire will be filled out by an independent investigator who is a nurse trained in the field of pain. She will give a score at each of the above time allotments. The maximal score is 50, and assesses general function and activity of daily living. The higher the score, the worse is the function. Questions asked relate to pain level, ability to wash oneself, lift things, walk, sit, stand, interact socially, travel, and have sexual relations. Patients with a score above 20 or more out of 50 are considered to have a significant disability.

Other Outcome Measures:
  • Number of patients suffering from adverse effects [ Time Frame: 1 week after a particular procedure ]
    In the event of an adverse effect developing after either of the procedures, this will be reported immediately to the Health Ministry. Number of adverse effects in both groups will be compared.

Estimated Enrollment: 160
Study Start Date: November 2013
Estimated Study Completion Date: December 2018
Estimated Primary Completion Date: December 2017 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Prolotherapy Injections

Each patient will be evaluated clinically and the spinal levels to be injected will be decided upon during each visit. The levels to be injected will largely depend on the pain referral patterns. All prolotherapy injections will be performed under ultrasound guidance.

A prolotherapy solution of 20% dextrose combined with 1% lidocaine will be injected to facet capsular ligaments and interspinous ligaments of the lumbar spine and the posterior sacroiliac ligaments. Six points will be injected in each treatment session. These sessions will be 4 weeks apart.

Drug: prolotherapy solution of 20% dextrose
After verifying the anatomy of the lumbosacral spine under ultrasound, a 9cm 22 gauge needle will be used to inject the prolotherapy solution to each of the points specified. In order to view the needle under ultrasound, a needle at least as thick as 22G is required. In order for the prolotherapy injections to be safe, bone must be contacted in order to avoid nerve damage. At each point a total of 1cc prolotherapy solution will be injected.
Other Name: Dextrose 20% solution
Active Comparator: Epidural Steroid Injections (ESI)
Those patients assigned to the ESI group will receive epidural steroid injections to the interlaminar space. These will be performed 4 weeks apart and under fluoroscopy. The level that will be injected will depend both on the clinical presentation as well as the size of the interlaminar space seen under fluoroscopy.
Drug: Epidural Steroid Injection
Prior to the epidural injection a local anaesthetic solution of 1% lidocaine will be injected into the relevant subcutaneous and ligamentous interlaminar space. The injectant solution will be comprised of 80mg methylprednisolone combined with 10mg (2cc) 0.5% bupivicaine. The resulting 4cc will be diluted with another 4cc of normal saline giving a total volume of 8cc. A loss of resistance technique will be used and radiocontrast dye will be injected to verify the placement of the needle prior to injecting the steroid solution.

Detailed Description:

The primary goal of the study is to investigate the long term efficacy of prolotherapy for patients with LBP referring to the leg. The secondary goal is to compare this efficacy with that of epidural steroids. The reason for exploring options other than ESI is that the latter have proved to be disappointing. Comprehensive reviews have been written on interlaminar and transforaminal epidurals which basically show poor long term results of longer than 3 months. In addition, ESI carries risks of neurological damage, epidural hematoma and infection. However, ESI continues to be the most widely used treatment worldwide. Research also shows that with increasing age, there is an increased incidence of ligament laxity, spondylolisthesis and angulation which may in turn lead to nerve impingement and deterioration in function with time. Sprained and strained ligaments are themselves capable of referring pain down the leg even as far as the ankle. Research shows that much of the pain referred down the leg is not from impinged nerve roots but from other soft tissues, such as the above mentioned ligaments; these must be addressed and treated not only to treat pain but in order to improve function.

The term prolotherapy is otherwise known as proliferative regeneration therapy and is aimed at doing just the opposite of cortisone, namely, to strengthen the structures injected, usually ligaments. Prolotherapy solutions are also used to treat partially torn tendons, as in the case of partial rotator cuff tears. Research on prolotherapy has shown that this treatment mode produces varying results in the treatment of low back pain and carries fewer risks than epidurals. One can infer from this that it may provide a safer and better long term treatment method than ESI. Yelland's review shows that prolotherapy works for the treatment of LBP if this treatment method is combined with other measures such as exercises or manipulations. In this study, patients with low back pain radiating to the leg will be randomized and receive either epidural steroid injections or prolotherapy injections using a solution made up of 20% dextrose. In light of the results of the research quoted, it was decided to give exercise instructions tailored to every patient's condition. Both patients from the experimental and the control groups will receive this instruction in order to avoid the presence of another confounding variable.

A precondition to being included in the trial is having either a CT or MRI of the lumbar spine within the previous 18 months and not having any of the exclusion criteria sited below. Once included in the trial patients will be randomized into the study and the control groups. All epidural injections will be performed under fluoroscopy, and radiocontrast dye will be injected to verify that the injectate will be given in the correct place. Patients in this group will receive 3 interlaminar epidural steroid injections approximately 4 weeks apart. The solution injected will be made up of 80mg methylprednisolone acetate with bupivicaine. The level injected will depend on the clinical picture.

All of the prolotherapy dextrose injections will be performed under ultrasound guidance. Prolotherapy patients will receive 5 sessions approximately 4 weeks apart. In each session, 6 injections in different areas of the lumbosacral spine, and sacroiliac ligaments will be injected with 20% dextrose solution using a 25 gauge needle. The targeted structures include the following: the facet joint capsular ligaments, interspinous ligaments, and some of the sacroiliac ligaments, all depending on the clinical assessment. The clinical picture will determine what levels will be injected in each session.

As described below, patients will be assessed prior to the study and after the study regarding their pain and function.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 90 Years   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Pain radiating down one or both legs or to the groin of at least 12 weeks' duration
  • Patients with disc lesions with radiating pain to the leg(s)
  • Mild spinal stenosis with a spinal canal of 9mm or more

Exclusion Criteria:

  • History of back surgery
  • Recent history (less than 2 years) of active malignancy
  • Recent fracture in the lumbar spine or pelvis of less than 6 months
  • Active locus of infection in the body
  • Coagulation disorders, and current anticoagulation therapy, excluding aspirin
  • Chronic medication with corticosteroids and NSAIDS (which are said to possibly neutralise the effect of prolotherapy) - the latter must be stopped 24 hours prior to the first treatment session
  • Recent injection of cortisone for back pain or any other pathology elsewhere in the body- patients must wait 2 weeks before commencement of the study
  • Concurrent significant depressive illness or evidence of catastrophisation
  • Concurrent history of active autoimmune disease or inflammatory joint disease
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01934868

Contact: Osnat Wende, MD 00 972 2 6776770
Contact: Hadas Lemberg, PhD 00 972 2 6777572

Pain Unit, Hadassah Medical Center Recruiting
Jerusalem, Israel
Contact: Osnat Wende, MD   
Contact: Hadas Lemberg, PhD   
Sponsors and Collaborators
Hadassah Medical Organization
Principal Investigator: Osnat Wende, MD Hadassah Medical Organization
  More Information


Responsible Party: WENDE OSNAT, Resident / Fellow in Pain Specialization, Hadassah Medical Organization Identifier: NCT01934868     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 0309-13-HMO-CTIL
Study First Received: August 30, 2013
Last Updated: August 15, 2016

Keywords provided by Hadassah Medical Organization:
low back pain
spinal stenosis
epidural injections
sacroiliac pain or dysfunction.

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Spinal Stenosis
Intervertebral Disc Degeneration
Spinal Diseases
Bone Diseases
Musculoskeletal Diseases
Neurologic Manifestations
Nervous System Diseases
Sciatic Neuropathy
Peripheral Nervous System Diseases
Neuromuscular Diseases
Signs and Symptoms
Pharmaceutical Solutions processed this record on April 26, 2017