By definition – Tennis Elbow occurs due to chronic inflammation of the tendons of the elbow caused by overuse of the muscles of the forearm. Other names for the condition include lateral epicondylitis, extensor tendonitis, and extensor tendonosis. Tennis Elbow is the common name, however, inflammation of the tendons of the elbow can occur with or without engaging in a strenuous (or even an easy) game of tennis. While many athletes such as Venus Williams sustain elbow pain and have reportedly taken time off from the sport to heal from their injuries, the good news is there are treatments available that are effective and much safer than combatting the pain with prescription medications. At Acute Pain Therapies we offer Platelet Rich Plasma, known as PRP to treat Tennis Elbow and similar problems that fall into that pain category.
Platelet Rich Plasma
When the body is injured, a complex set of events occur in which the damaged tissue is broken down and removed, while new tissue is created. Some parts of the body are prone to poor healing – tendons and ligaments especially. Additionally, some people have an imbalance between breakdown and healing where the body tends to break down more than heal. PRP contains a complex array of growth factors that promote healing rather than painful inflammation and breakdown. PRP is an injection of potential – the patient must utilize the PRP to its full potential by adjusting their lifestyle, especially with proper exercise, to promote on-going healing beyond PRP which will provide an initial boost to that process.
The use of PRP injections to treat chronic tendon problems, such as tennis elbow, Achilles tendonitis at the ankle, and jumper’s knee, or pain in the patellar tendon in the knee is common. For acute pain injuries, doctors have used PRP injections to treat many types of acute sports injuries, like acute tennis elbow and even pulled hamstring muscles or knee sprains.
What is PRP?
The short answer is this – PRP is your own blood that has been enriched with your own platelets. PRP contains growth factors that can stimulate healing. The platelets are best known for their importance in clotting blood. However, platelets also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in the healing of injuries. PRP is plasma with many more platelets than what is typically found in blood.
Why does it work?
A patient’s blood is centrifuged until it separates out into layers of white cells, platelets, and red blood cells. The white cell layer is then selectively drawn into a syringe. This white cell layer contains between 5 to 9 times the normal blood concentration of platelets. It is further refined to promote healing of the intended target. For example joints are injected with a particular type of PRP, while tendons, ligaments, and muscles are given a PRP refined in a slightly different way. PRP is injected around or directly into the affected tendons, ligament, muscles and joints. A majority of patients will respond favorably to PRP within 4-6 weeks of the injection.
If you are suffering from Tennis Elbow or a similar injury that’s causing pain in your tendons and are interested in a consultation with Dr. Fisk, please contact our office today. We’re here to help.