17 May 3 Surgery-Free Solutions for Tennis Elbow
If it hurts to straighten or flex your elbow, or if your hand has trouble gripping or turning, you may have a repetitive movement injury known as lateral epicondylitis, also called tennis elbow. You can get tennis elbow even if you’ve never played a game of tennis, badminton, or any other sport.
Having tennis elbow simply means that you’ve injured your forearm muscles and tendons — which attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow — by overusing them through repetitive motions during work or play.
Dr. Paul Eliot Hughes, expert orthopedist and founder of Hughes Orthopedics, knows how debilitating and painful tennis elbow can be. He also knows that surgery comes with its own risks and potential limitations. At our clinic, he recommends treating tennis elbow with nonsurgical therapies first, reserving minimally invasive surgery only for the most severe cases that don’t respond to other treatments. Here are three of the nonsurgical solutions.
Physical therapy has two different benefits for women and men with tennis elbow. First, your physical therapist observes how you perform repetitive motions and then gives you tips on how to adjust your posture, grip, and arm movements to minimize the risk of worsening your injury or re-injuring it once you’ve recovered.
Second, your therapist assigns you a series of exercises that you do during your session and on your own or at home that strengthen your muscles and tendons so you’re less likely to injure yourself.
Your physical therapist helps you learn how to gently stretch your tendons and muscles so that they become more elastic and less prone to injury. You also lift free weights with your wrist to gradually build strength in your forearm.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy
If you follow sports, you’ve probably noticed that top athletes are either foregoing or augmenting traditional surgery with regenerative therapies. Ten years ago, regenerative therapies — such as platelet-rich plasma and stem cell treatments — were revolutionary. But as regenerative medicine has grown in popularity, it has become a more affordable — and healthy — alternative to invasive repairs.
The simplest type of regenerative treatment for tennis elbow is PRP, which is a serum of healing platelets created from your own blood. Dr. Hughes withdraws a small amount of blood from your arm with a syringe, to a blood test.
He then processes your blood in a sterile centrifuge, which separates out the healing platelets to a concentration that ranges from five to 10 times that of regular blood. He mixes the concentrated platelets with a little bit of the liquid portion of your blood (plasma) and injects it into the site of injury.
The platelets join your body’s natural healing response by helping repair your strained, sprained, and inflamed muscles, tendons, and other tissues. The concentrated platelet serum contains growth factors, stem cells, and healing substances that accelerate your body’s ability to repair and regrow healthy tissue.
Stem cell therapy
As with PRP, the stem cells used to heal your tennis elbow come from your own body. Dr. Hughes withdraws stem cells from the bone marrow in your hip to prepare your treatment. He then processes and purifies the bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) with the Harvest® BMAC system, which produces the highest stem cell concentration and yield possible.
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells, which means that they don’t have any particular, unique characteristics as, for instance, bone cells or heart cells do. Instead, stem cells can morph into other types of cells, including muscle and tendon cells, when injected into them. In addition, the presence of stem cells stimulates and accelerates the healing response in your body so that you can repair injuries faster than ever.
Dr. Hughes injects the BMAC into the site of your injury. Stem cells build strong new muscle and tendon cells and also help you create new collagen and elastin. As your tendons and muscles repair themselves with stem cells, they become stronger and more flexible.
You don’t have to suffer from the pain and debilitation of tennis elbow or undergo painful surgery and rehabilitation to restore function. To find out if you’re a candidate for PT, PRP, or BMAC stem-cell therapy, call us today.
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