Doctors call it lateral epicondylitis; you probably know it as “tennis elbow”. And it doesn’t just affect tennis players – sufferers may call it golfers elbow and even carpenters elbow. Any frequent, repetitive strenuous movement, whether from swinging a tennis racket, golf club, or hammer, can damage the muscles and tendons in your forearm – which you feel as pain and tenderness in the outside of your elbow.
Treatments range from ice packs and over-the-counter pain relievers to surgery for the most severe cases. Corticosteroid (cortisone) injections used to be a very popular treatment but the risk of side effects, as well as the high frequency of relapse has patients looking for other options.
The results of a recent study shows Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP Therapy may be the best option for sufferers of “tennis elbow.”
One hundred average people (not elite athletes) who had suffered from tennis elbow for more than six months took part in the study. Half of them received a corticosteroid injection; the rest got an injection of PRP drawn from their own blood. The subjects were then asked at regular intervals to report on reduction of pain, and on increased function of their injured arm.
Researchers found that while the corticosteroid injections showed better initial results, those results declined over time. The patients who received the PRP injections reported a small improvement at first but kept getting better and better.
After a year, researchers concluded that almost three-quarters of the patients who received the PRP therapy were successfully treated (i.e. showed a significant decrease in pain and increase in arm function) compared with less than half of the patients who received the corticosteroid shots.
After two years, patients in the PRP group continued to improve, while the patients in the corticosteroid group didn’t get any better, and some reported feeling as bad as they did when the study started.
Doctors who provide PRP therapy are not surprised by these results. When injected into a patient, platelet rich plasma releases high concentrations of growth factors that help promote the body’s natural healing response – in this case in the muscles and tendons surrounding the elbow. Since the platelets come from your own blood, using this regenerative therapy instead of steroids is very low risk with few side effects.
You can find more info on the study by clicking HERE. If you are interested in seeing if you are a candidate for PRP therapy click on the “find a provider” link to location a medical professional in our Atlanta area who offers PRP therapy.