PRP for Lateral epicondylitis commonly known as “tennis elbow”
PRP or platelet rich plasma injections for tennis elbow can alleviate the pain, speed up healing time and improve function. The research surrounding PRP is significant. In a study by Taco Gosens, MD, PhD, and colleagues at St. Elisabeth Hospital in Tilburg, Netherlands, comparing cortisone injections to PRP injections for the treatment of lateral epicondylitis, patients who got the corticosteroid had much faster pain relief. But 26 weeks after treatment, patients in the PRP arm were much more likely to have less pain and more function than those who received the corticosteroid.
And they kept getting better over the next year. By this time, PRP-treated patients reported a 64% improvement in pain and an 84% improvement in disability. Corticosteroid-treated patients reported a 24% improvement in pain and a 17% improvement in disability.
What is PRP and how does it work?
The body’s first response to soft tissue injury is to deliver platelets. Packed with growth and healing factors, platelets initiate repair and attract the critical assistance of stem cells. PRP therapy’s natural healing process intensifies the body’s efforts by delivering a higher concentration of platelets.
To create PRP therapy, a small sample of your blood is drawn (similar to a lab test sample) and placed in a centrifuge that spins the blood at high speeds, separating the platelets from the other components. The concentrated platelet rich plasma (PRP) is then injected into and around the point of injury, jump-starting and significantly strengthening the body’s natural healing signal. Because your own blood is used, there is no risk of a transmissible infection and a very low risk of allergic reaction.
No hospital stay is required. The procedure is performed safely in a medical office and takes approximately 30 minutes, including preparation and recovery time. In fact, most people return to their jobs or usual activities right after the procedure.
Pre and post treatment care
It’s advised not to take an anti-inflammatory (Advil, ibuprofen, naproxen etc) for 7 days before and after the procedure. These medications can block the growth factors in the PRP thus may render the injection ineffective. You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) before or after the procedure for discomfort. You may apply ice to the area for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours for the first 24-48 hours after the procedure. It’s best to limit activity for the day of the procedure and the day after to activities of daily living. No exercise involving the treated area.