Ongoing positive effect of platelet-rich plasma versus corticosteroid injection in lateral epicondylitis: a double-blind randomized controlled trial with 2- year follow-up
Gosens, T, Peerbooms, JC, van Laar, W, and den Oudsten, BL 2011, ‘Ongoing positive effect of platelet-rich plasma versus corticosteroid injection in lateral epicondylitis: a double-blind randomized controlled trial with 2- year follow-up’, The American Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 39, no. 6, pp. 1200-1208.
Tennis elbow, more formally known as chronic lateral epicondylitis, is a repetitive stress injury caused by overuse. It involves localised pain where the forearm meets the elbow. The tendons in this area develop small tears which lead to inflammation, making it very painful to lift and grip things.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is an innovative treatment using the body’s natural healing process to accelerate and enhance healing. PRP has been shown to be an excellent stimulator of repair improving tendon condition immediately and long-term, hence it is a suitable treatment method for patients presenting with tennis elbow. PRP is an alternative and safer form of treatment to drugs such as narcotic analgesic or corticosteroid injection.
This 2011 study was conducted to compare the effectiveness of PRP injections to corticosteroid injections in patients with tennis elbow. In this trial 100 patients experiencing tennis elbow were either administered a corticosteroid injection or PRP injection. Analysis of improvement was based on self-reported pain scores and scores relating to Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH).
The results demonstrate better long-term success rates when patients were treated with PRP as opposed to corticosteroid. Pain reduction was seen in both groups throughout the 2-year period, but at the 2-year follow up analysis, DASH scores of PRP patients were significantly improved, while those of corticosteroid patients had returned to baseline levels. Treatment of tennis elbow with PRP significantly reduces pain and increases function. PRP had better long-term effects than corticosteroid injection, even after a follow-up of 2 years.