Medically referred to as epicondylitis, tennis elbow is a painful type of inflammation in the elbow joint caused by overuse. While the condition is unsurprisingly linked to tennis, other types of repetitive motion can also cause the injury, such as factory work. In fact, it’s estimated that three to nine million people in the U.S. will experience tennis elbow.
In some cases, lifestyle adjustments such as rest or the use of heat and cold therapy can alleviate the discomfort. In other cases, physical therapy may be needed to restore function. When these approaches don’t work, surgical intervention is often posed as the last resort.
Patients with severe, persistent tennis elbow are faced with a unique dilemma, however. Not only could a full recovery from surgery take up to six months, but the procedure could still leave the patient with frustrating side effects, such as loss of forearm strength and decreased range of motion in the joint. As a result, patients may have to give up their favorite activities.
Now, however, an alternative option is on the horizon: stem cell therapy.
Stem Cell Treatment for Tennis Elbow
Stem cells have special capabilities compared to other cell types. For one, they have the potential to self-renew, creating copies of themselves. For another, they can also differentiate into virtually any cell type. Finally, they also have anti-inflammatory properties to promote healing. This makes them immensely useful for aiding in the repair of injuries which are traditionally difficult to recover from, such as tendon tears.
Some medical experts are now offering stem cell therapy for sports and athletic injuries such as tennis elbow. Stem cells can be extracted from the patient’s bone marrow or fat tissue or provided by a donor. These natural healing mechanisms can then be injected to the site of injury, such as a damaged joint, via ultrasound guidance.
Studies have shown patients to feel improvements after two weeks from their treatment. Patients may need subsequent treatments, depending on the extent of damage to the joint. Even greater benefits can be realized thereafter.
Many patients are naturally drawn to this minimally invasive procedure, as it allows them to forgo or delay the need for surgery. Plus, stem cell therapy is well-tolerated in most patients and doesn’t require downtime for a long recovery. It’s therefore a worthwhile alternative to consider, especially for patients for whom traditional healing methods have proven ineffective.
This post was written by Becky Palmer, a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for the joints, also known as stem cell therapy for joints! Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.