New Platelet Rich Plasma Treatments for Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is an inflammation of the tendons and tissues around the outside of the elbow joint. It accounts for 20% of all injuries to tennis players, but happens most commonly to people who do not play tennis at all.1 Tennis elbow is caused by chronic inflammation of the tendons in the elbow joint. It is usually diagnosed by physical examination alone. In fact, most patients can diagnose the condition themselves based on their symptoms of pain, swelling, and tenderness.
Tennis elbow appears to be extremely common in the CrossFit athletic community. Amanda Allen, CrossFit Games Masters Champion is the highest profile example of a CrossFit athlete with tennis elbow.
Lateral epicondylitis is usually treated with rest and medical observation. Often, if sufferers stop provoking the inflammation through rigorous activity, the pain and swelling may eventually go away without specific treatment. Nondrug treatments for tennis elbow include braces, splints, and physical therapy with eccentric exercises.2Corticosteroid injections into the affected area are common and occasionally helpful for symptom relief. Orthopedic surgery is rarely used to treat tennis elbow; if it is used, it is reserved for chronic, severe cases.
“Considerable work has been done developing the use of platelet rich plasma for the treatment of tennis elbow,” reports Dr. Jason Pirozzolo, a sports medicine physician in Orlando, Florida and President of the American Regenerative Medicine Society. “Platelet rich plasma is made from the patient’s own blood, by spinning it down and concentrating platelets and other helpful substances into a small volume. This uniquely prepared PRP treatment is injected near the site of the inflammation in the elbow.” Platelet rich plasma contains multiple growth factors that help the body restore normal structure and function.
A double-blind clinical trial involving 100 patients with lateral epicondylitis showed that PRP therapy reduced pain and increased elbow function. In fact, these benefits were superior to treatment with corticosteroid injections.3,4
Tennis elbow is an inflammation of tendons in the elbow that is common in athletes and non-athletes alike. It causes pain and swelling in the outer aspect of the elbow joint that can limit lower arm and hand function. People with mild tennis elbow may be able to take a “wait and see” approach, but often require drug and nondrug therapies including corticosteroid injections. “Platelet rich plasma treatment may be a promising option for people who wish to avoid steroids, and may also speed recovery in people who are suffering from painful tennis elbow,” states Pirozzolo.
Authored by © The American Regenerative Medicine Society
Dr. Jason Pirozzolo is the Director of Sports Medicine and Trauma at Orlando Hand Surgery Associates and Orlando Regenerative Medicine Center. He specializes in non-surgical orthopedic treatments, regenerative medicine and platelet rich plasma injections. He is also the President of The American Regenerative Medicine Society and serves on the Board of Governors at the Florida Medical Association and as a delegate to the American Medical Association.
- Jayanthi N, Sallay PI, Hunker P, Przybylski M. Skill-level related injuries in recreational competition tennis players.Vol 102005.
- Bisset L, Beller E, Jull G, Brooks P, Darnell R, Vicenzino B. Mobilisation with movement and exercise, corticosteroid injection, or wait and see for tennis elbow: randomised trial. Bmj. Nov 04 2006;333(7575):939. doi:10.1136/bmj.38961.584653.AE
- Peerbooms JC, Sluimer J, Bruijn DJ, Gosens T. Positive effect of an autologous platelet concentrate in lateral epicondylitis in a double-blind randomized controlled trial: platelet-rich plasma versus corticosteroid injection with a 1-year follow-up. Am J Sports Med. Feb 2010;38(2):255-262. doi:10.1177/0363546509355445
- Gosens T, Peerbooms JC, van Laar W, den Oudsten BL. Ongoing positive effect of platelet-rich plasma versus corticosteroid injection in lateral epicondylitis: a double-blind randomized controlled trial with 2-year follow-up. Am J Sports Med. Jun 2011;39(6):1200-1208. doi:10.1177/0363546510397173