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Effect of PRP on Treatment of Tennis Elbow

May 11, 2018by Doug Ginter

The classic tennis elbow is widely known as a disturbing and a painful condition. It is accompanied by an unpleasant pressure pain in the outer elbow area, which increases when these muscles are operated. This condition occurs frequently, especially with tennis players and golfers hence the term tennis elbow, golf arm, or golfer’s elbow.

The tennis elbow, in the jargon called epicondylitis, is by no means limited to athletes. The symptoms are especially common in people who spend a lot of time at their desk every day.

Did you know that in countries, such as the US and UK, tennis elbow is officially recognized as an occupational disease? In Australia and the US, it is even considered the number one occupational disease.

However, research has it that introduction of Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is an effective way of treating this condition. This plasma product has platelet concentrations higher than normal concentrations in the body and enriched with various growth factors. It is obtained by centrifugation of whole blood to remove red blood cells.

As we have seen in the previous publication, PRP promotes the proliferation, differentiation of tendon cells, and the synthesis and secretion of stroma by releasing abundant cytokines, thereby promoting tissue repair and regeneration. At the same time, the patient’s pain symptoms are relieved by inhibiting the expression of pain-related factors. A large number of clinical studies have shown that PRP has a good repair effect on tennis elbow.

Evidence-based research on the effect of PRP tennis elbow treatment

Epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, often occurs in tennis, badminton players and other long-term use of elbow movement. Mishra A  studied 20 patients who failed conservative treatment and compared the difference between a single injection of PRP (15 cases) and bupivacaine (5 cases). After 8 weeks, the PRP group was superior to the bupivacaine group in terms of functional recovery, pain relief, and efficacy satisfaction. Therefore, PRP is recommended as a choice for non-surgical treatment of tennis elbow.

Connell injected 35 patients with PRP therapy and achieved good clinical results. It was also found that the thickness of the tendon and the neovascularization were significantly reduced.

Peerbooms JC compared 49 patients with PRP and 51 patients with steroids through randomized controlled trials and found that steroids had significant effects in the early stage of treatment, but the duration of effect was short and decreased over time; while PRP group continued to be effective and effective. Therefore, the PRP group was superior to the steroid group in reducing pain and improving function one year later. After two years, the efficacy of the steroid group returned to pre-injection levels. However, the PRP group was still effective and had no significant complications.

In a recent randomized controlled trial of 230 patients, it was found that the efficacy of the PRP group was not different from that of the blank injection group at 12 weeks, but the efficacy of the PRP group was significantly improved at the 24th week.

What do these studies conclude?

PRP is a platelet-rich plasma product from the patient’s own whole blood, containing a large number of autologous growth factors. A large number of foreign clinical trials have reported that PRP injection therapy has the advantages of simple operation, small adverse reactions, and reliable clinical effects, and may be used as the last method before surgical treatment of tennis elbow and tendon diseases.

Doug Ginter