Platelet Rich Plasma Injection Gives Tennis Elbow a ‘Shot’ at Healing

1/21/2010

An avid tennis player, Troy resident Mary Joliat, 52, became used to receiving - and returning - shots. When pain from her tennis elbow would not ease, she turned to an injection of Platelet Rich Plasma. This risk-free serum contains products from a patient's own blood that restarts the healing process of degenerated tendon tissue.

"I tried everything," says Joliat. "I wanted to do anything to help ease the pain, and with this, I had nothing to lose."

"Platelet Rich Plasma, called PRP, has zero risks as this injection is focused on the scientific evidence that the all-natural, no chemical serum acts as a 'kick starter' to the body's healing process," explains Kenneth Jurist, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Beaumont, Royal Oak. "It is putting someone's own blood product back into the body. If the serum is effective, the damaged tissue will start to heal itself."

With an area such as the elbow, blood is first drawn from the patient's arm, spun down in a centrifuge for approximately 20 minutes, and then the clear serum is injected back into the aggravated area.

Dr. Jurist says Joliat was a good PRP candidate because she struggled with the dull, nagging ache from her tennis elbow for several months and is in good physical health. About six months before her PRP injection, she stayed off the court, tried physical therapy, several acupuncture and holistic treatments and iced her elbow almost daily.

After the injection, Joliat wore a sling for three days, felt fine after a couple days, but took it easy. Dr. Jurist recommends follow-up appointments at three weeks, and again at three and six months, with no sports for at least three months and then activities slowly accelerated after that. Some patients require physical therapy after three weeks. Joliat was instructed and shown at-home exercises such as massage, light stretching of the arm and applying ice.

Dr. Jurist recommends PRP treatment for adults who have had long standing problems with tennis elbow; tendonitis in other areas such as Achilles and around the knee; chronic or recurrent hamstring pulls to name a few, but also notes that it is a case-by-case decision. To date, he has not needed to perform a second injection, but does not rule out the possibility. Success has been close to 100 percent. Besides stiffness and some soreness after the injection, which is expected, Dr. Jurist says that inflammation is common since "healing is a form of inflammation."

The injection is pending Food and Drug Administration approval and is not covered by insurance, as PRP efficacy-proving studies are currently underway with early results promising at two years follow-up. All patients considering this procedure must receive an examination and possible diagnostic studies.

"I feel wonderful now," says Joliat. "It was so worth it, not just to ease the pain, but to get back on the court."

Game. Shot. Match.

Downloadable photo of Dr. Ken Jurist with patient Mary Joliat.

Background information on Dr. Jurist