Tennis Elbow & Golfer's Elbow
Tennis and golfer's elbow are injuries with micro-tears of the ligaments, but not enough injury to activate the healing process. When PRP is injected into the injured areas it activates your body's natural healing mechanisms.
WHAT IS IT?
Sometimes also called epicondylitis, it is the most commonly diagnosed elbow condition. It actually consists of micro-tears and scar tissue in the common tendons of the forearm at the elbow joint. Tennis elbow affects the outer (lateral) aspect of the elbow whereas golfer's elbow causes pain on the inner (medial) aspect. It is actually not a true '-itis' (inflammation), but is instead an '-osis' which refers to a damaged or diseased state. This is why the condition generally does not respond to anti-inflammatory medications (like NSAIDs) or steroids (like dexamethasone).
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Pain. Lots of it. Pain is usually in the elbow and upper forearm area and may also spread throughout the forearm and even into the wrist. It may also cause a reduced hand grip strength that is severe and painful when trying to grip and lift heavier objects, for example, lifting a heavy cast iron pan out of the cupboard.
WHO GETS TENNIS ELBOW?
It is more common in the 30-50+ age group and not just tennis players and golfers. In fact, tennis players make up just 5% of those suffering this tendonopathy. Anyone who has an occupation or avocation that involves repetitive types of motions can also overload the elbow joint: plumbers, painters, carpenters, butchers, etc. can all experience this tendinopathy, but when associated with their occupation, the sufferer doesn't have the option of taking a few months off as weekend warrior amateur athletes may be forced to do.
HOW IS TENNIS/GOLFER'S ELBOW USUALLY TREATED?
The typical first approach to treatment is rest and reducing or stopping the aggravating activity. Icing the affected area after use, massage, and stretching are all very conservative measures that may help some, but have limited effect on others. In addition, returning to the activity may immediately set you back to pain and disability if proper regenerative healing has not occurred.
PRP does not hide or mask the symptoms, it stimulates the growth of new collagen which strengthens the damaged tendons. The ultimate goal is to return to your occupational and sports activities pain free and fully functional
HOW DOES aPRP WORK ON EPICONDYLOSIS?
Autologous Platelet Rich Plasma (aPRP) is made from your body's own blood. Your blood in spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelet rich portion of the plasma from the red blood cells. This plasma is further concentrated to get a dense concentration of platelets. Why platelets? Your platelets are the first agents on the scene when there has been an injury. If there is bleeding or bruising involved the platelets form the blood clot. They also release up to 18 different hormones, growth factors, and healing cytokines to start the inflammation, regeneration, and repair processes.
Tennis and golfer's elbow are injuries with micro-tears of the ligaments involved, but seemingly not enough injury/inflammation to activate this healing process. When aPRP is injected into the injured areas it brings the healing action right to where it needs to be. You can see now why elbow straps, and massage really do not help, and steroids (which can cause tissue atrophy), may actually worsen the condition in the long run and are highly discouraged.
WHAT IS THE EXPECTED COST?
We recommend 3-5 treatments spaced about 2 weeks apart. Each injection requires a fresh withdrawal of blood and processing. Total in office visit time is about 45 min. (initial), 30 minutes (subsequent visits). Other practices are charging $900-1200 per injection (here and here)
Initial visit evaluation fee: (waived)
Treatment (each): $400 (draw blood, process to separate & concentrate plasma, inject into injured area)