Fifty Plus (50+) - OT: Prolotherapy for tennis elbow
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Has anyone had prolotherapy treatments for stubborn tennis elbow?
It's been almost 6 months since I last rode my bike. The tennis elbow is still not resolved in spite of several weeks of PT, elbow band, ultrasound, massage, exercises, stretching, Advil (and no Advil), ice (and no ice), the Flexbar, rest..... you name it.
My doctor (very reputable sports ortho surgeon) ordered an MRI and started talking about surgery.
Someone recommended prolotherapy.... long story short, I read about it, found a very well-trained referral, and have had 2 treatments so far. Still a lot of pain but I remain hopeful. I've read that some cases may require several treatments.
NOTE: I'm NOT asking for opinions about prolotherapy --- I'm interested in hearing from others who tried it and found relief --- or not --- from tennis elbow. It is not snake oil, hocus-pocus, voodoo, or any of the other claims I've read on-line. Performed correctly by a well-trained doctor (like any other field), it has helped many people --- but, like many mainstream treatments, may not work for all.
05-31-11, 04:14 PM
Not sure I know what prolotherapy is (I'll google it) but have you considered acupuncture? I had some consistent pain in my shoulder that was totally relieved by one acupuncture session. I'm not saying you would have the same results as my problem wasn't tendinitis but it might be worth considering before surgery.
Someone in our bike group asked my husband if I've tried acupuncture. I considered it and then started prolotherapy. If this doesn't work then I'll more seriously consider that. Something.... something..... has to work.
06-01-11, 09:06 AM
I never heard of prolotherapy before reading this post. I hope it works for you. I would worry that whatever caused the problem is going to continue to hammer at your elbow even after your prolotherapy treatment is finished. I know you've probably heard this before, but if you think your problem is caused by cycling, call every bike fit place in town and find someone who's got a idea of how to change your riding position to solve the problem.
I don't know if this problem was caused by cycling. The elbow pain began several weeks after I stopped riding, while I was getting PT for my shoulder problem. Weak shoulder muscles, including poor scapular function and balance, can set up a chain reaction of weakness down the arm --- weak shoulder can lead to overcompensation of elbow leading to elbow pain. My wrists were weak to start with (unrelated issues there), so it's possible the forearm muscles needed to compensate for them as well as for the shoulder. The very day of my first doctor appointment last October (for the shoulder), my brother was preparing for open shoulder surgery to repair a full-thickness rotator cuff tear..... so, this could be a genetic weakness as well.
My bikes have an excellent fit, but my elbows have been subject to a lot of repetitive motion including pruning sheers while gardening, bike brake levers, using a keyboard all day at work and at home.
When the source of the pain is repaired, I'll try riding and see if there's anything about the bike that needs adjusting so I can continue riding. Or, perhaps it's time for us to go tandem so at least I can ride but not brake.
UPDATE: Last summer, I had 2 prolotherapy treatments and 2 PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injections in my right elbow.
During a follow-up exam after the the second prolo treatment, the doctor said progress wasn't as expected and recommended PRP. In PRP, they spin a sample of your blood to separate the plasma so it is very rich in platelets, then inject that into the affected tissue (that's the simple definition).
Both treatments are very painful (a very affective form of torture), but PRP's aftermath was excruciating. For about 2 days it felt like my forearm was being torn off while a large serrated blade was pushed through it. I took Vicodin every 4 hours (I hate taking meds but this pain was absolutely intolerable -- worse than Shingles!). The pain began to subside after a few days and I returned to work, my arm basically useless for a couple of weeks. After about a month I was able to drive again, but my elbow still felt like a bad headache. Eventually the post-treatment pain completely went away.
Today, the tendinitis pain in my right elbow is almost completely gone. Prior to treatment I rated it a 7 out of 10; now I'd rate it 0-1! I can make a fist without any pain. I can prune roses without any pain -- unheard of last year! My left elbow did not receive these treatments and is more painful now; however, I've learned to do things differently (lifting, grasping, etc) and I still wear the BandIt elbow braces on every bike ride.
I believe without a doubt that the PRP treaments, and possibly also the Prolotherapy, greatly helped in healing my elbow. I can't think of any other reason, since I am riding more than ever and performing other tasks that I was unable to do last year. If my new insurance (Kaiser) paid for it I'd consider it again for the left elbow, but it's not nearly the problem my right elbow was last year.
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