Despite their names, golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow aren’t limited to athletes. Anyone who engages in activities that require repetitive arm movements is at risk of these injuries.
At their worst, golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow can make performing simple daily tasks aggravating. Our experts at Your PRP Clinic recommend platelet-rich plasma injections for golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow. Read on to find out how this ground-breaking treatment helps your body heal naturally.
Both golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow are forms of epicondylitis — an inflammation that results from repetitive motion of your arms and wrists. The difference between the two lies in the exact location of the inflammation.
Golfer’s elbow, or “medial epicondylitis,” refers to pain and inflammation that affect the inner side of your arm and elbow. In general, a golfer's elbow is caused by repeated, forceful twisting or flexing of the wrist, such as carrying a heavy food tray. Over time, the overuse causes the tendons that connect your elbow to your wrist to develop small tears, causing swelling and pain.1
Tennis elbow is also known as “lateral epicondylitis.” Unlike golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow refers to tearing and swelling of the tendons on the outside of the elbow and forearm. Common causes of tennis elbow include frequent use of hand tools and raking or gardening.
Treatments for golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow are similar but may have slight variations. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend starting with conservative treatments, such as:
Unfortunately, many of these treatments provide limited benefits.2 Corticosteroid injections may give immediate pain relief, but numerous studies have found that they’re ineffective long-term.3
In some cases, the pain from your golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow could become chronic. This means that your pain could linger for several months – even if you follow your healthcare provider’s instructions to rest and exercise your arm.
As its name implies, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) consists of two main components — platelets and plasma. Plasma is responsible for circulating your blood cells and nutrients throughout your body. Platelets are blood cells that help your blood clot when you experience an injury.
Platelets have another critical function — healing. They contain an abundance of growth factors, proteins, and signaling chemicals that, when released, play a critical role in tissue regeneration.
So, you might be wondering…if your body already has platelets, why do you need PRP?
In a healthy person, the normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 and 350,000 cells/microliters of blood.4 By spinning down your blood at high speeds (a process called centrifugation), the platelet concentration can be dramatically increased. The goal of PRP therapy is to deliver this higher concentration of platelets directly to the affected area.
The high concentration of platelets found in PRP may help regulate:4,5
The concentration of platelets can vary depending on individual patient characteristics, such as your age, medical conditions, and blood circulation.4 Your PRP treatment may also include other components of blood, such as leukocytes, a type of white blood cells. Talk to your provider about which type is best for you.
Because regenerative medicine is a developing field, PRP preparation and administration techniques can vary widely from study to study.
But results of early studies are promising.
Researchers at Tulane University School of Medicine compared the outcomes of treatment-resistant golfer’s elbow after PRP or surgery. To do so, they reviewed 33 patient cases, 15 of whom were treated with two PRP injections. They found similar rates of success in the two treatment methods and concluded that “PRP can be considered as an alternative to surgery” in patients with golfer’s elbow.6
In a 2017 review of 21 studies, researchers found that patients treated with PRP for their tennis elbow reported significantly less pain in the long-term.7
How does PRP therapy compare to other conventional treatments for tennis elbow? A team of researchers analyzed the results from 7 trials comparing PRP to corticosteroids. They found that PRP injections were superior at reducing pain and improving elbow joint function long-term.8
Your provider will provide instructions on how to prepare for your appointment. Some medications like anticoagulants or NSAIDs may need to be stopped.
The entire PRP process, which includes preparation and injection, takes approximately an hour.
At Your PRP Clinic, you can expect the following steps:
|A technician will draw a small sample of blood from you, which will be placed in a tube.|
|The vial is placed in a centrifuge, which spins the blood at high speeds. This separates the platelets from the other blood components.|
|We remove the tube from the centrifuge and separate the plasma layer from the other layers which are then discarded.|
|Once the PRP solution is prepared, your provider will inject it into the affected area where the healing process begins.|
Because PRP triggers a cascade of biological responses, you may experience some soreness or swelling in the injection area for a few days. We recommend taking it easy for a few days after your treatment.
Because PRP is an autologous therapy (derived from your own blood), it has an outstanding safety profile. There is no risk of an adverse reaction or disease transmission. Talk to your provider if you’re taking any medications or if you experience any severe discomfort after your injection.
Golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow can be extremely painful. Without enough rest and therapy, your symptoms may persist for several weeks or longer.
If your golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow has been resistant to conventional treatments, you may want to consider PRP injections. Results from clinical trials suggest PRP may be an effective alternative to invasive treatments like surgery.
If you’re in the Schaumburg, IL area and are suffering from golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow, call us today at (866) 999-8550 to learn how PRP can help you.