Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

New tennis elbow treatment as effective as surgery: study

Would-be tennis pros suffering from recurring tennis elbow may not have to go under the knife to get the most effective treatment, according to a study.

The study found that taking specially prepared platelets from the patient and re-injecting them into the tendon of the affected elbow provides more relief than more commonly used therapies that have failed to yield results and often result in surgery.

The study, published in the November issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, evaluated 140 patients who suffered from tennis elbow for longer than three months and had scored at least a 60 out of 100 on a visual pain scale.

All had completed physical therapy and tried some combination of anti-inflammatory medicines, bracing or cortisone shots without relief of symptoms.

“Ninety-three per cent of patients in our study did well, which is as good a result as patients who have tendon surgery,” the study’s co-author Dr. Allan Mishra of the Stanford University Medical Center told the journal.

The procedure involved very little risk to the patient, he added.

“We are using the patient’s own blood taken right in the doctor’s office, and the whole procedure takes less than an hour.”

Pain not limited to tennis players

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis or tendinitis, is the degeneration of the tendon above the elbow that controls the movements of the wrist and hand.

It is a common problem for people whose activities require strong gripping or repetitive wrist motions.

Up to three per cent of the general population and as many as 15 per cent of workers in some specific industries, such as painters, suffer from tennis elbow

Treatment options include rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, bracing, physical therapy, and injections of cortisone, but recent studies have questioned their efficacy. Those who suffer longest often resort to surgery.

Body’s ability ‘to heal itself’

Platelet-rich plasma contains powerful growth factors that initiate healing in the tendon, but may also send signals to other cells in the body drawing them to the injured area to help in repairing the damage, Mishra said.

Early studies have shown the therapy to be useful in certain facial surgeries, wound healing and small fracture repairs.

“The body has an extraordinary ability to heal itself,” Mishra told the journal.

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