Treating tennis elbow with platelet rich plasma
July 21, 2014
By Sean Colio, MD
Board Certified, Sports Medicine
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is concentrated blood plasma containing a large amount of platelets. This concentrate, which is derived from your whole blood, is rich in growth factors that help heal injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and even cartilage. PRP is injected into the affected region to stimulate and enhance healing. Unlike cortisone injections, PRP helps heal the injured tissue and improve its function. One of the most common areas of treatment with PRP is tennis elbow.
Recently, a large study on PRP for tennis elbow was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. They found success rates for patients with 24 weeks of follow-up were 83.9% in the PRP group compared with 68.3% in the control group. No significant complications occurred in either group.
In the news, New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka sustained a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. He was examined by three orthopedic surgeons and they all agreed on treating his injury with a platelet-rich plasma injection along with rehabilitation to get him back to pitching in about 6 weeks. This is a new treatment which can spare a pitcher season ending Tommy John surgery. This is based off of a study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine which showed that 30 of 34 athletes (88%) returned to the same level of play without any complaints, thus avoiding surgery.
PRP has been an important part of my practice in sports medicine for over 5 years now. We use advanced ultrasound imaging to guide the procedure directly to the injured area. We’re also utilizing more concentrated versions of PRP to help with joint arthritis. For a consultation regarding PRP, please call us at 425-498-2272.