Although the term may be coined tennis elbow, the majority of patients suffering from it don’t actually play tennis. It may be common among tennis players, but most people will suffer from tennis elbow due to excessive strain or repetitive overuse of the muscles and tendons in the arm. Not to be confused with Golfer’s Elbow which causes pain on the inside of the elbow, tennis elbow is categorized by pain in the joint and tendons on the outside of the elbow. With regard to treatment, this 2020 study sought to compare popular treatment options against each other to determine which was the most effective.
The experts at Regenerative Orthopedics and Sports Medicine specialize in regenerative therapies that help patients with musculoskeletal injuries and damaged tissues avoid unnecessary surgery. Our goal is to provide long term treatment options that not only manage your pain but effectively correct the underlying issues to restore proper working function to your tendons and joints! For patients with elbow pain, this often means strengthening the shoulder and shoulder girdle that is putting extra stress on the elbow, and optimizing ergonomics or movement patterns to impact the processes that led to the elbow pain.
How Tennis Elbow Treatments Work
The study mentioned above compared the efficacy in the short term and long term for pain reduction and functional joint improvement of tennis elbow treatments. The three methods are as follows:
Autologous Blood Injection (ABI)
This form of therapy involves drawing ‘full’ blood from the patient and re-injecting it into the injury site. The procedure essentially a more effective, more directed method that encourages your body’s natural healing process. Your blood is full of platelets and platelet-derived growth factors (PDGF) that are designed to heal and repair damaged tissues. Experts use ultrasound guidance tools to ensure a high level of precision when administering the procedure, meaning the best possible result for the patient.
Corticosteroids Injection (CSI)
Generally regarded as the ‘typical’ joint treatment, corticosteroids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that reduce swelling in the joint as well as surrounding muscle, tendons, and tissue. Often, pain can subside for months at a time allowing the affected area the chance to heal. Patients may need regularly scheduled treatments in order to live without pain.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injection
PRP is a derivative of your own blood that has been super-concentrated with reparative platelets and growth factors. A sample of your blood is taken and placed in a machine that applies centrifugal force, effectively separating your blood into its respective components, red and white blood cells, and the now platelet-rich plasma. The plasma is then extracted and prepared for injection.
Using extremely accurate ultrasound guidance tools, the doctor injects the PRP directly into the injury site, ensuring maximum delivery for the best possible result. PRP contains all of the essential components for repairing or replacing damaged joint tissues. This not only helps to eliminate the pain but can actually restore the proper working function to the joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues by stimulating healing
What is the Best Treatment for Tennis Elbow?
The study concluded with results showing positive results for all of the tennis elbow treatments, however, two of them stood out for different reasons. Corticosteroids showed the most immediate results, providing pain relief in the short term, but ultimately requiring regular return visits otherwise pain would begin to take hold again. Platelet-rich plasma recorded the best long-term results, meaning the greatest pain reduction in the long-term, as well as the greatest improvement in long-term joint function.
Corticosteroids are effective anti-inflammatories but are lacking when it comes to cellular regeneration. This makes them effective pain killers and allows for temporary gains in joint function or participation in therapy, but the underlying problem still persists.
In contrast, PRP has the long term health of the patient in mind. Instead of focusing on pain, PRP is intended to regenerate and repair damaged tissues in the joint. Correcting the underlying issue not only relieves any recurring pain but more importantly aims to actually heal the injury.
Want to Learn More About Platelet-Rich Plasma?
If you would like to learn more about PRP, you can find more information on ROSM’s full PRP page, or if you would like to speak with a specialist, call or book an appointment online. Take the first step towards pain relief, joint function, and improved quality of life!