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Tennis Anyone? Don’t Let Tennis Elbow Slow Down Your Swing

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Tennis Anyone? Don’t Let Tennis Elbow Slow Down Your Swing

Fox Valley Orthopedics’ Dr. James Sostak Gets Behind PRP Therapy as the Best Choice for Tennis Elbow

New treatments for tennis elbow can get you back on the courts in no time. Dr. James P. Sostak – a Fox Valley Orthopedics fellowship-trained sports medicine surgeon – believes that biologic therapies – which use healing products from the patient’s own body – affect better results than cortisone treatment when it comes to tennis elbow, a very common degenerative problem.

Tennis elbow – a common, debilitating, and painful condition – was once thought to be an inflammatory process. Today, however, tennis elbow is understood to be a degenerative process, and can therefore be effectively treated with biologics.

Biologics, considered low risk treatments, include therapies such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP), stem cells, and fibrin clots.

“Biologics involves using a patient’s own tissues or cells in a unique way to boost the healing process,” says Dr. Sostak.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a minimally invasive treatment, proven effective through research, for chronic tendon injuries such as tennis elbow. There is also some promising data to suggest that PRP may be effective as a treatment for cartilage repair and osteoarthritis.

“Tennis elbow is an excellent candidate for PRP treatment,” says Dr. Sostak. “A great deal of research suggests that PRP is superior to cortisone treatments, providing better pain relief, faster functional recovery, and helps the damaged tissues to heal.”

How is PRP prepared? The patient’s own blood is drawn in the usual way. It is then spun down in a centrifuge to separate it into components, concentrating the platelets.PRP is ready for injection once the concentrated platelet layer is drawn into a syringe.

One of the cellular components of blood, platelets are vital to the clotting and healing process.

“Platelets also contain proteins known as growth factors,” explains Dr. Sostak. “PRP contains platelets in concentrations of up to 10 times greater than that of blood, making it a tremendous source of the growth factors significant to healing.”

Growth factors have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and also act as the biological “glue,” the “scaffolding” for tissue healing. They supplement tissue healing by minimizing tissue breakdown, and increasing the number of healing cells present.

PRP therapy is an important supplement in orthopedic care and healing. Damaged cartilage, for example, has a poor capacity for healing. PRP therapy can supplement cartilage restoration surgery by decreasing the inflammatory response, and increasing the number of cartilage cells and the quality of repaired cartilage. Some of the latest research suggests that PRP may significantly supplement the healing of cartilage restoration procedures.

There is also promising new data regarding the use of PRP in treating osteoarthritis, specifically in dealing with knees. PRP has been shown to result in better pain relief, less stiffness, and improved function compared to cortisone and viscosupplimentation. PRP can also improve cartilage quality, and decrease further breakdown.

While PRP has its limitations – it’s typically not covered by most insurance plans, and must be paid for out of pocket – it may be worth the cost to avoid a surgery.

“To date, we have no way to restore cartilage to ‘as good as new’, but PRP brings us closer to ideal healing than previous treatment methods were capable of doing,” says Dr. Sostak.