Evolution of Technology

Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) is a substance created by spinning down a tube of blood in a centrifuge machine and separating out the portion containing a high percentage of platelet cells. Platelet cells release multiple growth factors related to the generation of soft tissue, such as during healing. When PRP is harvested and spun down, a small amount of calcium chloride is added to activate the platelet cells to start producing growth factors once injected into the target area. The goal is to increase the body’s own healing
process to resolve the damage that is causing the painful condition. PRP has been tried in a host of musculoskeletal conditions, but the evidence for its success is the best for healing the kneecap after ACL surgery and for educing pain in tennis elbow. Investigation is ongoing for many other orthopaedic conditions throughout the body.

Evolution of Procedure

Tennis Elbow Injections

Treatment of tennis elbow aims at decreasing symptoms of pain and weakness while the body heals itself over time, usually a year or less. A small strap or splint is often prescribed to reduce the strain on the tendons during activity. Oral or topical anti-inflammatories can be used, as well as stretches at home or with a physical therapist. In addition, patients often seek immediate relief of the focal discomfort on the outside of the elbow. Many orthopaedic conditions can be palliated with a shot, and tennis elbow is no exception. The traditional substance used in orthopaedic injections is some type of steroid, and patients usually refer to this treatment as a cortisone injection. Concerns about steroid shots include the issue that the medicine does not actually increase healing, and that it can weaken tissue over time. These concerns have led doctors to investigate other injectables that may encourage healing.

Evolution of Diagnosis

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Tennis Elbow is a musculoskeletal condition characterized by pain on the outside part of the elbow. The painful area is called the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, and is the area of origin for the group of muscles that extend the wrist and fingers. A minor trauma or overuse injury is often to blame for this condition. Patients may feel pain at the elbow or anywhere along the top and outside of the forearm down to the wrist and hand. Gripping and lifting can be extremely uncomfortable, and patients often complain of weakness in the forearm and hand.