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People who experience elbow pain are typically those who perform repetitive tasks involving their arms and hands. These tasks may include activities and professions like carpentry, secretarial work, computer work, pianists, guitarists, tennis players, and many other skills that require repeated activities day after day. It’s not surprising, really, that doing the same thing day in and day out could cause a structure to break down. Think about how you feel after spending a day working in the yard, or joining a new work out at the gym, or doing some other activity you’re not accustomed to. We pretty much expect to have some amount of muscle soreness. That is normal. During exercise, muscle cells are temporarily “injured,” as part of a normal process to multiply muscle cells. Unfortunately though, the same isn’t true with ligaments and tendons. They also break down from repetitive use, but they don’t have a very good capacity to heal well on their own. Muscles repair pretty well on their own, because they have an adequate blood supply, but ligaments and tendons do not.

Elbow Pain May be the Result of Ligament or Tendon Injuries

Movement and exercise are necessary for health of all of the joint structures and to keep the body strong and healthy. But repetitive motion, day in and day out, can result in wear and tear. How do you know when soreness is a problem? When soreness occurs after activity, keep in mind that normal soreness after exercise should not last more than a few hours. When soreness lasts longer, you are probably exercising too much or need to take more breaks. Muscle injuries generally heal with rest. When pain persists even after rest, the cause is oftentimes a ligament injury.

Elbow Ligaments

The ligaments of the elbow provide stability to the elbow. They attach bone to bone, and different ligaments support various functions of the elbow, stabilizing the elbow as it goes through movements. For instance, the radial collateral ligament of the elbow prevents the elbow from hyperextending. Other ligaments keep the arm bones from rotating too much.  When these ligaments are weakened or damaged, they become unable to protect the elbow from excessive and unnatural movement, placing stress on all of the structures of the elbow.

The Role of Tendons

Pain from repetitive motion may also result in a tendon injury. While ligaments attach bone to bone, stabilizing them, the tendons connect muscle to bone, and along with the muscles, enable the bones to move. Those with tendon injuries usually feel pain during activity, but ligament injuries may also be painful even while at rest.

All Involved Structures Need Treatment for Proper Repair

A very high percentage of persistent elbow pain involves a ligament injury, but many physicians only diagnose the problem as a tendon injury. Tennis Elbow, for example, is a commonly diagnosed tendon injury that often has a concurrent ligament injury.  It is important to treat all of the involved structures in order to fix the problem and get rid of the pain. A ligament injury can lead to a tendon injury, or injury to another structure of the elbow joint, so it is very important to treat the underlying source of injury and pain. Otherwise, the repaired tendon is likely to become reinjured because the joint will remain unstable due to the underlying ligament injury.

Elbow Pain Treatments

Cortisone or steroid injections are a common treatment option for tendon injuries, but as we have discussed in previous articles, cortisone will actually weaken the tendons and the ligaments. Elbow injuries, whether due to ligament injuries, tendon injuries, or both, are better repaired using Regenerative Orthopedic treatment options which strengthen and regenerate the structures rather than weakening and degenerating them.  Yes, cortisone may provide some temporary pain control, but in the long-run, will have a damaging effect on the joint and actually boost the arthritic process. 

Regenerative Orthopedics for unresolved elbow pain decrease pain and stiffness, and restore quality of life.  The pain alleviating aspects of Regenerative Orthopedics are well documented, with studies demonstrating its effectiveness at significantly improving pain levels while also increasing grip strength and improving function, because it actually heals the tendons and ligaments.

  • In the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, doctors found that patients who received Prolotherapy, a Regenerative Orthopedic option, showed significant improvement in pain levels compared with patients given saline injection. Plus, their extension strength and grip strength were markedly improved.[i]
  • Published research of patients with elbow pain due to Tennis Elbow treated with Prolotherapy resulted in a decrease in pain from a level of 6.79 to a level of 2.95, which is statistically significance.[ii]
  • In another study, research demonstrated a significant reduction in elbow pain from Tennis Elbow in patients who received Prolotherapy, along with evidence of tendon healing observed via ultrasound imaging.[iii]

Regenerative Orthopedics works by stimulating the normal healing process of the body by the injection of natural healing solutions into the pain generating trigger points of the elbow. The result is strengthened ligaments and tendons, a stabilized elbow, and an end to elbow pain.

[i] Scarpone M, Rabago DP, Zgierska A, Arbogast G, Snell E. The efficacy of prolotherapy for lateral epicondylosis: a pilot study. Clin J Sport Med. 2008;18(3):248–54.

[ii] Shin J, Seo K-M, Kim D-K, Kim B-K, Kang SH. The effect of prolotherapy on lateral epicondylitis of elbow. J Korean Acad Rehabil Med. 2002;26:764–8.

[iii] Park JH, Song IS, Lee JB, et al. Ultrasonographic findings of healing of torn tendon in the patients with lateral epicondylitis after prolotherapy. J Korean Soc Med Ultrasound. 2003;22(3):177–83.

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