Do you actively participate in tennis or golf and feel pain in your elbow? You may have lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow or medial epicondylitis, commonly referred to as golfer’s elbow. Caused by overuse, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow can be an extremely painful conditions. OPTIMAL Pain & Regenerative Medicine offers PRP non-surgical treatment alternative for golfers and tennis elbow to athletes living in the Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth communities. Our team of double-board certified pain management experts and anesthesiologists offer PRP injections for elbow to patients in the Dallas, Arlington and Ft. Worth areas as well as other forms of regenerative medicine.
Anatomy of the Elbow
The elbow joint is made up of three bones: upper arm bone (humerus) and the two bones in the forearm (radius and ulna). Muscles, ligaments and tendons hold these three bones in the joint together. There are bony bumps at the bottom of the humerus called epicondyles. The bony bump on the outside of the elbow (lateral side) is called the lateral epicondyle and the bony bump on the inside of the elbow (medial side) is called the medial epicondyle.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow involves damage to the muscles and tendons of the forearm. The forearm muscles extend the wrist and fingers, which is repetitively used in the groundstroke of tennis. The main tendon associated with tennis elbow is called the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB), which attaches to the lateral epicondyle. The position of the ECRB is at risk due to the position – as the elbow bends and straightens the muscles rub against the epicondyles. When the ECRB is weakened from overuse, microscopic tendon tears occur where the tendon attaches to the lateral epicondyle. These microscopic tears lead to inflammation and pain.
What is Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow, but it occurs on the inside rather than the outside of the elbow. Medial epicondylitis, or golfer’s elbow involves damage to the wrist flexors. Wrist flexors are the muscles in the palm side of the forearm that pulls the wrist down. Most of the wrist flexor tendons attach to the medial epicondyle. As the wrists flex and form a grip the muscles in the forearm tighten pulling on the tendons. During a golf swing, force is put on the flexor muscles and the tendons that attach these muscles to the medial epicondyle in the elbow. When the wrist flexor tendons are weakened due to overuse, microscopic tendon tears occur where the tendon attaches t the medial epicondyle. These microscopic tears lead to inflammation and pain, which causes golfer’s elbow.
What are PRP Injections for Elbow?
Platelet rich plasma – more commonly known as PRP – injections are a non-surgical treatment option for chronic tendon injuries, acute ligament and muscle injuries. PRP injections combine modern technology with the body’s natural abilities for accelerated healing. PRP use among professional athletes, collegiate athletes and weekend warriors has become increasingly common.
Platelets, one of the four main components of a human’s blood, initiate tissue repair by releasing growth factors. These growth factors are a naturally occurring substance capable of stimulating cellular growth, proliferation, healing and cellular differentiation of chronic tendon injuries, acute ligament and muscle injuries.
How Do PRP Injections Treat Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow?
When non-surgical treatment options such as rest, ice and bracing do not improve symptoms, PRP injections to treat tennis and golfer’s elbow is a viable treatment alternative. Today, physicians use PRP injections to treat acute ligament injuries like tennis and golfer’s elbow.
To begin treatment, one of our trained physicians will remove a vial of blood, typically 30 milliliters. The patient’s blood is then spun in a centrifuge which is a machine that uses high speeds to separate the four main components of the blood. Once the components are separated, the platelet rich plasma is removed. The plasma is then injected into the elbow at the site of pain to allow the growth factors to recruit and increase the proliferation of reparative cells. In some cases, an “activating agent”, which is either thrombin or calcium chloride, will also be added into the injection.
The entire process takes less than 15 minutes. Response to treatment will vary with each patient. Most patients will require 1-3 sets of PRP injections. Each set of treatments is spaced 4-6 weeks apart. As PRP is obtained from your own blood, the risk of reaction is low. As with any injection, there is a small risk of injury to any structures in the area as well as a very small risk of infection.
If you are interested in PRP injections for elbow and live in the Dallas, Arlington, Fort Worth area, please contact OPTIMAL Pain & Regenerative Medicine at 817-472-2140.