The last time you shook someone’s hand, did it hurt your elbow? Perhaps you were lifting a shopping bag full of groceries or picking up a brush to work on a painting. Regardless of what you were doing, you were shocked by a breathtaking pain in your arm.
If you are feeling tenderness and pain that seems to begin with the small, bony knob that’s on the outside of your elbow, then you may have a condition that is commonly called tennis elbow.
Have you never played tennis? That doesn’t mean that you can’t develop tennis elbow. In fact, people with a wide variety of hobbies and professions have developed this condition. Here are just a few examples of people who have needed treatment for tennis elbow:
- Weight lifters
Most of these people never picked up a tennis racquet in their lives. Nonetheless, they at some point found themselves dealing with a debilitating condition that affected the tendons in their elbow.
Tennis Elbow Symptoms
How will you know if you have tennis elbow? Usually, it begins with pain on the outside of the elbow. The discomfort typically is centered around the bony knob where the tendons and the bone connect. Some people with this condition may experience radiating pain that may go to the upper or lower arm.
While the pain seems to originate in the elbow, it is likely that you received this injury by using your hands.
If you have tennis elbow, you are likely to experience an increase in pain whenever you:
- Pick something up
- Try to grip an item or make a fist
- Open doors
- Shake hands
- Raise your hand
- Straighten your wrist
However, if you notice that the pain you are experiencing is centered on the inside of the arm, then you may be suffering from golfer’s elbow instead.
How Is Tennis Elbow Diagnosed?
Your doctor will want to conduct a thorough examination of your arm. This likely will include asking you to bend and flex your elbow, wrist, and arm to determine which movements increase the pain and exactly where the pain is occurring.
It is a possibility that the doctor will want to take an X-RAY or MRI to get a better look at your arm. This also may help to rule out other conditions that may present with similar symptoms to tennis elbow.
Traditional Treatments for Tennis Elbow
In earlier decades, doctors did not have very many options when it came to treating tennis elbow. They would recommend that the patient rest and take it easy for a while until the symptoms began to subside.
Icing the arm, especially the elbow, also generally is recommended. This reduces swelling and pain. Doctors further may recommend taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication like aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen.
Some patients may be asked to practice range of motion exercises that are designed to help increase flexibility and reduce stiffness. It may be necessary to do these exercises as many as three to five times every day.
Occasionally, physical therapy is prescribed. Generally, this involves additional exercises, with the patient being required to attend numerous appointments during which they learn how to safely and effectively perform the exercises.
It is possible that these treatments just are not enough to treat tennis elbow. When this is the case, the doctor may prescribe steroid or painkiller injections. These work on a temporary basis to ease pain and swelling. However, some scientific evidence suggests that such injections do not provide relief from this condition over the long term.
What About Surgery?
Some patients have especially severe cases of tennis elbow. They spend a minimum of two to four months diligently treating their tennis elbow, but without noticeable improvement. This may mean that the tendons are simply too damaged to recover using traditional treatments.
Tennis elbow surgery may be performed in one of two methods. These include open surgery and arthroscopy.
With open surgery, the surgeon makes an incision above the bony knob on the outside of your elbow. Damaged pieces of the tendon are then removed, and healthy tendon tissue is reattached to the bone. In some cases, the surgeon also will remove an infinitesimal piece of the bone, which improves blood flow to promote faster healing.
In arthroscopic surgery, several tiny incisions are made in the skin over the patient’s elbow. Tiny medical instruments are inserted along with a camera. The surgeon uses these instruments to remove the damaged parts of the tendons.
The Problem with Traditional Tennis Elbow Treatments
Perhaps you have noticed something about all of these traditional treatments for tennis elbow. They all require a great deal of time.
Of course, you could easily invest months in rest, icing, and physical therapy only to discover that your condition has not improved as you thought it would. The next step is surgery, and it can take months to improve after that.
What if there was a better treatment for tennis elbow, one that did not require endless months of waiting to take effect?
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy for Tennis Elbow
Have you heard about Platelet Rich Plasma, or PRP, therapy yet? If not, then it’s time that you do.
PRP treatments may sound like a revolutionary new approach to you, but the reality is that this kind of therapy has been around since the 1970s. Back then, it was mostly used by star athletes who were looking for quicker ways to recover from injuries.
Today, the technology has improved, and so has the accessibility of PRP therapy. Anyone has the potential to be a great candidate, and it may be the best way for you to start healing fast so that you can get back to the life you love.
While PRP may be used for treating tennis elbow, it works equally as well for injuries to the rotator cuff, hamstring pulls, patellar tendinitis, and a variety of other conditions.
What Is PRP Therapy?
PRP treatments are effective because they harness the power of your body’s own healing mechanisms. The platelets in your blood are among the most important cells for stimulating healing in the body.
Essentially, PRP works because it utilizes a concentrated solution of your own platelets. The PRP is made by withdrawing some of the patient’s blood. The sample is then spun in a centrifuge machine to separate out the various components.
The resulting solution is plasma that contains a mega-dose of platelets. This solution is then injected into the treatment site, where it stimulates healing and regeneration.
PRP therapy is known to decrease the recovery time needed from tennis elbow while also speeding up healing. One study even concluded that the use of PRP therapy reduces the need for surgical intervention.
Talk to Integrative Physical Health about PRP Therapy
Are you constantly bothered by pain in your elbow? Is the pain making it difficult to pick things up, open doors, or even shake hands?
If so, then you don’t have to live with the pain. It also is not necessary for you to spend months resting and icing or worrying about the need for surgery. There is an alternative, and Integrative Physical Health can help you to explore the possibilities.
Contact us today to learn more about Platelet Rich Plasma therapy and how it can treat chronic, painful conditions like tennis elbow, hamstring pulls, injuries to the rotator cuff, and more. You may not need surgery, and you may be able to get back to enjoying life much sooner than you thought was possible.