The term “tendinitis” persists in the medical literature and language though the description is not technically correct. “-Itis” denotes an inflammatory condition, but biopsies of chronic tendon conditions almost never show inflammatory changes. Instead, the pathological changes are more characteristic of a smoldering degenerative process. Thus, a powerful anti-inflammatory corticosteroid injection into a painful tendon might have made sense when it was understood to be an inflammatory condition, but do steroids make sense after you know that it is really a chronic degenerative condition?
This study compared the effects of a corticosteroid injection versus a platelet rich plasma injection for treatment of tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) in two groups of patients. Group A was treated with single injection of 1ml PRP with absolute platelet count of at least 1 million platelets/ mm(3). Group B was treated with single injection of 1ml (40mg) methyl-prednisolone. Pain, grip strength and functional improvements were assessed using visual analogue scale, dynamometer and quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand scale respectively at baseline, 15 days, 1 month and 3 months. All assessment parameters improved significantly in both the groups at each follow up compared to baseline. But, at the end of three months group A (the PRP group) showed significantly better improvement as compared to Group B (the corticosteroid group).
What does this mean for patients? It means that at least for the treatment of some kinds of tendon disorders, PRP is non-inferior compared to steroid. Moreover, at least in this study, the results seemed to last longer. This makes sense if you consider that PRP is a tissue-healing, regenerative treatment and corticosteroids are more or less only palliative. PRP injections also don’t expose patients to steroid related side effects. Of course these findings need to be replicated, but they are consistent with other studies using similar patients, conditions, and methods.
The specialists are Columbia Pain Management, PC are experts at treating musculoskeletal conditions due to a variety of causes—injuries, degeneration, systemic disease, etc. We are the only Center in the Pacific Northwest using the Regenexx proprietary form of PRP allowing our providers to customize and tailor treatment specifically for your problem. If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or stymied by pain and poor tissue healing, then we might be able to help. Call us to see if a regenerative medicine procedure for your tendon problem can help you get back to feeling your old self again.