Injecting your own blood platelets to heal damaged tendons
Does the outside of your elbow hurt when you grip? This painful condition is commonly called tennis elbow. A new treatment has emerged in the past 10 years which uses platelet rich plasma (PRP) to reverse degeneration in the tendon, providing a better long term solution than steroid shots. Dr. Nate Crider at the Center for Regenerative Orthopedic Medicine in Medford is an expert in utilizing the Regenexx PRP treatment to heal elbow pain.
The most common treatment method for tennis elbow is to put anti-inflammatory steroid injections into the tendon. This calms down pain for about two months but doesn’t get to the root of the problem. When researchers studied samples from tennis elbow patients, they didn’t find inflammatory cells. Under a microscope, a healthy tendon should look like a rope of tightly connected collagen fibers. However, in tennis elbow patients, the tendon looks like a rope that was left out in the sun, with loose, degenerated fibers. Not only do steroid injections not cure the problem, they are toxic to the tendon cells, leading to further degeneration of those collagen fibers.
As an alternative, PRP involves precise injections of the patient’s own blood platelets back into the damaged tendon. This restarts the natural healing process as those platelets release growth factors that stimulate repair of damaged tendons. PRP treatments have proven superior to steroid injections over the long term.
Less invasive treatments commonly used to alleviate tennis elbow include using a strap or brace to put pressure on the muscle. Physical therapy and alternative modalities, such as acupuncture, to improve blood flow for the healing factors that come with it. If those treatments fail, the surgical treatment has been to cut the tendon off the bone and then reattach it. This often leads to scar tissue and doesn’t resolve the pain. At the Center for Regenerative Orthopedic Medicine, an initial evaluation will help to diagnose the true cause of your elbow pain and provide you with some functional, nonsurgical treatment options.
You don’t need to be a tennis player to wear out this tendon. In fact, the providers at the Center for Regenerative Orthopedic Medicine see it in many people who use their dominant arm repetitively, like painters, carpenters, golfers and landscapers. To learn more about how PRP treatment can reduce your pain and heal your tendon without surgery, contact the Center for Regenerative Orthopedic Medicine or visit our website.