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New biologic treatment for tennis elbow may replace surgery for chronic sufferers

A person suffering from tennis elbow may not have to look any further than his or her own body for the most effective treatment, according to a study published in the November issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Specially-prepared platelets taken from the patient which are then re-injected into the tendon of the affected elbow provides more relief than more commonly-used therapies which have failed to yield results, often resulting in surgery, concludes study authors Allan Mishra MD and Terri Pavelko, PAC, PT, of the Menlo Medical Clinic, Stanford University Medical Center, Menlo Park, Calif.

"Ours is the first in vivo human investigation of this novel biologic treatment for chronic severe elbow tendonitis in patients who have simply 'flunked out' of other treatments," says Dr. Mishra. "Ninety-three percent of patients in our study did well, which is as good a result as patients who have tendon surgery."

"There is very little risk here; we are using the patient's own blood taken right in the doctor's office, and the whole procedure takes less than an hour," Mishra says. "The results of our pilot study indicate this therapy is as effective as surgery, with sustained and significant improvement over time, no side effects, and high patient acceptance."

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis or tendonitis) isn't restricted to those who frequent tennis courts, but is a common problem for people whose activities require strong gripping or repetitive wrist motions. It is a degeneration of the tendon above the elbow that controls the movements of the wrist and hand. Treatments such as rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, bracing, physical therapy, and injections of corticosteroids (cortisone shots) are often used but recent studies have called into question their efficacy. Those who suffer longest resort to surgical repair of the tendon when all other therapies have failed.

Mishra and Pavelko evaluated 140
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Source:American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine


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