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April 13Treatment of Lateral Epicondylitis: Steroid vs. Platelet Rich Plasma

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Lateral Epicondylitis is chronic pain of the muscles and tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the elbow at the lateral epicondyle. Lateral Epicondylitis is very similar to “Tennis Elbow” and often times classified as the same disposition, however, it is not. While LE typically originates from sports activities or holding occupations such as painters or plumbers, this condition is often caused by overuse of the elbow and can make simple tasks like grabbing a mug of coffee or opening the refrigerator excruciating.

A definitive, effective treatment of LE to restore lasting function of the elbow is for the most part still unknown and physicians rely on pain management practices to at least subside the painful side effects associated with this condition. That was until recently. In an article published in March of 2017, an examination of citations, published from January 1980 to September 2016, related to the treatment of LE using Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) vs steroids was conducted. The results were analyzed for relief of pain and improvement of function.

There were eight randomized controlled trials including 511 patients. Results were then categorized by timeframes for the duration of the effects of treatment: short-term (2-4 weeks), short-term (6-8 weeks), intermediate-term (12 weeks), long-term (half year), long-term (one year). This meta-analysis concluded that treatment of LE by steroid administration could slightly relieve pain and significantly improve function in the short term categories of 2-4 weeks and 6-8 weeks. However, the use of PRP led to relief of pain and improved function for intermediate term (12 weeks) as well as both long term (half year and one year) timeframes.

PRP is derived from the patient’s own whole blood and contains a high concentration of growth factors to initiate and speed up the healing process. To see lasting relief of pain from LE and to restore long-term function of the elbow, the clear option for treatment is Platelet Rich Plasma.

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