Lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, is a painful condition that
caused by the overexertion of the lateral side of the elbow region. Only
less than 5% of all tennis elbow diagnoses are related to actually playing
tennis. People who participate in activities that require repetitive arm,
elbow, and wrist movement can be affected. Regenerative medicine gives the
patients a safe and more effective treatment choice.
When people with painful lateral epicondylitis seek medical attention, the
traditional treatment options include splinting, nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory medication, corticosteroid injections, ultrasound therapy
and physical therapy. However, when these measures fail, surgery may be needed
to cut and release the tendon, remove the degenerative tissue and stimulate
The advancement of regenerative medicine has provided patients with newer and
more effective choices. In a two year study conducted in two teaching
hospitals in the Netherlands in March 2011, 100 patients with chronic lateral
epicondylitis were divided into two groups: one received traditional
conticosteroid injections, the other had autologous platelet concentrate
injection (also know as PRP), by using the platlets derived from the patients’
own blood to stimulate tissue repair.
The researchers learned that the PRP group was more successfully treated than
the conticosteroid group. The pain was significantly reduced and functions
greatly improved even after a follow-up of two years. No complication was
noted in the PRP group. The corticosteroid injection group showed reduced
pain after the treatment; however, unlike the PRP group, their DASH score,
which measures disabilities of the arm, shoulder and hand, returned to the
level before the treatment after two years.
The corticosteroid group showed improvement initially and then declined,
whereas the PRP group progressively improved. Another treatment option similar to PRP is autologous blood injection. Apatient’s blood is injected into an injured area of the body to heal tendon degeneration and damage. The injection of blood also contains platelet
derived growth factor that promotes tendon healing. PRP and autologous blood injection offer alternative minimally invasive treatment that address the pathophysiology of lateral epicondylitis that has failed traditional nonsurgical treatment.
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