A study published in February, 2010 by Dr. Taco Gosens from the Netherlands, revealed Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections were more effective than cortisone injections for chronic tennis elbow at 1 year follow-up. The controlled trial studied 100 patients with chronic lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). Recently, Dr. Gosens revealed the study’s conclusion at 2 year follow-up in The American Journal of Sports Medicine. In his findings, Dr. Gosens discovered pain was reduced significantly in the PRP group 2 years following the initial treatment and no complications arose. The pain level of patients in the cortisone group however, had returned to initial levels prior to the cortisone injection. This is a significant revelation as it indicates PRP may be significantly more successful in long-term pain reduction and function improvement in elbows ailed by ellateral epicondylitis.
Currently, PRP remains a therapy for patients who have failed other non-surgical treatments. As cortisone injections are temporary pain relievers and can cause tissue damage, they have also been a final resort when other non-surgical therapies fail.
Based on this study, PRP could eventually be used as a substitute for cortisone injections. PRP is shown to be more effective and has the advantage of using patients’ own natural components to heal soft-tissue tears. Cortisone as an outside agent introduced to the body, is designed to temporarily relieve pain, but can be further damaging to an injury. As evidence supporting PRP effectiveness continues to be published and insurance companies come to understand PRP’s value, the substitution may be possible.
Reference: Ongoing Positive Effect of Platelet-Rich Plasma Versus Corticosteroid Injection in Lateral Epicondylitis : A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial With 2-year Follow-up. Taco Gosens, Joost C. Peerbooms, Wilbert van Laar and Brenda L. den Oudsten. Am J Sports Med 2011 39: 1200 originally published online March 21, 2011. DOI: 10.1177/0363546510397173