Tennis Elbow is the scourge of many amateur and high level players. In the past, most athletes suffering this injury were forced to take time off the court while the pain improved or, in more severe cases, surgery was required to repair the damaged tendon.   In recent years a new treatment has been gaining popularity that uses the athlete’s own blood to heal injuries. These treatments, known as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections have been utilized across almost all major sports, including Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Kobe Bryant.

How Does PRP Work?           

The PRP process starts by taking a small draw of the athlete’s own blood and placing it into a centrifuge. The centrifuging process separates the blood so that the platelets are isolated and extracted. These platelets contain natural proteins that promote the body’s healing response. Once the platelets have been separated, they are injected directly into the injured area, which stimulates the body’s natural healing mechanisms. PRP is most often used in conjunction with Physical Therapy to maximize the healing and strengthening process.

Is PRP Effective?

Recent research conducted by Taco Gosens, MD, PhD, at St. Elisabeth Hospital in Tilburg, Netherlands tested the effectiveness of PRP injection against the standard protocol of corticosteroid injection. (http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20100310/platelet-rich-plasma-helps-tennis-elbow#1)

The goal was to see which treatment provided both the duration of pain relief as well as their improvement in mobility. According to this study, “The researchers randomly assigned patients with chronic lateral epicondylitis — tennis elbow lasting longer than six months and pain ranking at least 5 on a 10-point scale — to get either a PRP or corticosteroid injection.”

Both groups were given an injection using a technique where multiple areas of the tendon were injected directly. The results showed that, although the corticosteroid provided more immediate pain relief, those receiving PRP had longer lasting results of both pain relief and improvement in function.   Twenty six weeks after treatment, patients who were injected with PRP had lasting pain relief and increased function. This trend continued for a full year after the treatments according to the research. “PRP-treated patients reported a 64% improvement in pain and an 84% improvement in disability. Corticosteroid-treated patients reported a 24% improvement in pain and a 17% improvement in disability.”

Should I Try a PRP Injection?

Every athlete and their injury are different. The effectiveness of a PRP injection is sometimes based on the extent of damage to the tendon or ligament, as well as where the injury has occurred. In any case, when pain or limited mobility is affecting your ability to be active, it is best to consult an orthopedic specialist. After examination and any necessary X-Rays or MRI’s, you can discuss with your orthopedic specialist if you are a candidate for PRP injections and how effective they may be for your particular injury.


The physicians at Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine focus on both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of Long Island athletes with bone and joint injuries.  Dr. Charles Ruotolo, President of Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, regularly conducts injury prevention seminars for athletic trainers and coaches in an effort to help players avoid injury.

Fortunately, many patients can be treated non-surgically with a combination of conservative modalities coordinated by the Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Team. If surgery is necessary, the practice uses a multidisciplinary approach to create a treatment plan that focuses on the patient’s lifestyle and activities and helps them get back to those activities quickly and effectively.  Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine has locations throughout Long Island. Contact us today to schedule a consult!