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Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatments for Tennis Elbow

  • Jun 13 2019

Can tennis elbow be treated with platelet-rich plasma?

Lateral epicondylitis, more commonly known as tennis elbow, is a swelling of the tendons that travel from the elbow to the wrist and is a form of tendonitis. Trauma or some other event may be the cause of tennis elbow, but, for most people, it is much more likely that the cause has to do with some sort of repetitive motion over time. The tennis swing is a perfect example of the kind of movement that can strain the muscles and tendons and eventually lead to not only swelling in the tendons but also small tears.

Tennis elbow is a fairly common injury and is actually the number one reason that people consult with healthcare professionals because of elbow pain. Anyone can develop this condition and at any age, but it tends to be more common for those over 40.

While it is true that some of the biggest names in tennis, like Juan Martin Del Potro, Bjorn Borg, Aleksandra Wozniak and Venus Williams, have struggled with tennis elbow, most who develop this condition spend little if any time on a tennis court. Any time there is an activity or occupation that involves repeated gripping of something, the potential for tennis elbow is present. Besides tennis, some of the sports that put participants most at risk are:

  • Weight lifting
  • Racquetball
  • Fencing
  • Squash

Occupations where the development of tennis elbow is more of a concern include those like:

  • Painters
  • Construction workers
  • Factory assembly lines
  • Butchers
  • Plumbers
  • Musicians
  • Knitters
  • Data entry or other jobs requiring long periods working on a computer keyboard         

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

As tennis elbow worsens, symptoms will become more pronounced. Some of the more common of these will include:

  • Pain centered around the bony knob located on the outside of the elbow and may radiate down the forearm. A burning sensation may also be present.
  • Loss of strength.
  • Decreased ability in the hands and fingers making it difficult to hold or grip objects.
  • Individual can no longer do even simple actions, like turning doorknobs and shaking hands, as easily as before.

Tennis Elbow Treatment Options

Most people recover from tennis elbow with the help of nonsurgical treatment methods and do not require surgery. Typically, recommendations will include a combination of:

  • Rest — stopping or vastly reducing the movements that created the issue as much as possible
  • Icing — for reducing swelling, which also tends to relieve the pain
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Over-the-counter pain medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Braces — may be recommended to relieve pressure on affected tendons and associated muscles
  • Steroids — corticosteroid injections that administered with ultrasound guidance may help reduce inflammation as well as pain


Treating Tennis Elbow with Platelet-Rich Plasma

Using platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to treat injuries and conditions like tennis elbow is gaining popularity. Even professional athletes, like tennis superstar Rafael Nadal and golf’s Tiger Woods have used PRP to hasten their recoveries and avoid surgery.  

PRP is believed to speed up healing and reduce the time required before a return to normal functioning by using a process that concentrates the growth proteins in a sample of an individual’s own blood and then injecting it into the site of the injury. Besides tennis elbow, PRP is being used to treat a variety of conditions, such as:

  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • medial epicondylitis (golf elbow)
  • rotator cuff tendonitis


For those few cases that do not respond to nonsurgical treatment, surgery, either open or arthroscopic, may be recommended to repair the damage in the tendon.

If you have questions about tennis elbow or any other orthopedic concerns, the physicians and staff of South Island Orthopedics are very experienced in a wide range of orthopedic conditions and are committed to providing personalized care in a state-of-the-art facility. To schedule an appointment, or if you just have questions, please use our convenient online contact form by clicking here.

Posted in: Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy