Cortisone injections are often not recommended in people with tennis elbow unless many other treatments have failed.
Cortisone is known for its ability to decrease inflammation in the body, and when it’s injected into the elbow, the pain can be gone for quite a bit of time – sometimes months!
However, natural health practitioners warn those with lateral epicondylitis to think twice before consenting to the injections.
Let’s see what the research says about the matter.
Double-Blind Study Sheds New Light On Cortisone Injections For Tennis Elbow
In The Netherlands, at two Dutch teaching hospitals, researchers found 100 patients with chronic tennis elbow. Fifty-one went into a group that received an injection of something called platelet-rich plasma while the remaining 49 received a cortisone injection.
They recorded pain scores and disability scores for patients before and after the treatment. These researchers really did their work because they followed the patients for 2 full years.
Often in today’s research studies, the scientists don’t want to wait that long! It seems as if there’s a rush to publish their studies!
After two years, the scores were compared and found that both groups improved over time.
Improvement was defined as pain scores at least 25 percent less than original scores and disability score had to be without a reintervention.
Those who received the cortisone injection had the same disability they had initially – two years later and reinterventions.
That study, by the way, was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in June of 2011. (Source: Am J Sports Med. 2011 Jun;39(6):1200-8. Epub 2011 Mar 21.)
Now I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a shocker and almost a slap in the face for these cortisone injections. Let’s move on to the next study.
“Lazy” Researchers Still Find Problems With Cortisone Injections
Our next study zips hundreds of miles across the map to the University of Hawaii in Honolulu at the School of Medicine.
Here the researchers didn’t do original research but reviewed what was done in the past.
They found 25 studies that used patients who were human, not animals, had athletic-related injuries, and received corticosteroid treatment.
There were a total of 983 patients in the studies and the researchers wanted to discover what type of complications the athletes suffered from.
Now remember that athletes have the highest metabolism of all adults. All that exercise and cardiac fitness allows them to heal rapidly.
It’s not uncommon for an athlete to take four weeks to heal from a broken bone than six. This is why we all must get out there and move our body more!
What the researchers found was that complications did result:
● Tendon Ruptures
● Fascia Ruptures (this is the connecting tissues)
These were reported commonly in the studies although no specific numbers were given. Stress fractures and death of the bone in multiple areas were also mentioned.
That study was reported in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine in Sept. 2005 so it’s possible that new research would report the numbers better. (Source: Clin J Sport Med. 2005 Sep;15(5):370-5. )
Still thinking about getting a cortisone injection?
Two Sweden Clinics Get Unexpected Results For Tennis Elbow Sufferers
Let’s zip over mentally to a research clinic in Sweden now where researchers are using corticosteroids in a different way for those with lateral epicondylitis.
They’re using it in something called iontophoresis, which is where a practitioner uses a gel of some sort along with an ultrasound or electrical therapy device that is rubbed over the injured area.
In this case, they used corticosteroid in the gel to treat the tennis elbow of 64 patients.
Half the patients got the cortisone gel while the other half received regular gel without any cortisone. The researchers treated them four times in two weeks.
Well, the results are kind of funny here because most scientists expect to get earth-shattering results. Instead, both groups improved and there wasn’t any significant differences between the groups!
That study was reported in the Scandinavian Journal of Medical Science in Sports in June 2002. (Source: Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2002 Jun;12(3):136-42.)
Doctors Still Determined To Make Cortisone Work
At a different hospital in Sweden, researchers worked with 109 patients with tennis elbow who had had it for about 8 months. This time the patients had corticosteroid injection either with or without anesthetic.
Those who received the steroid both with or without the anesthetic had a specific pattern of results. (Source: Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1995 Jul;(316):99-105.)
Here’s what happened:
a) First, symptoms were relieved by the 14th day.
b) Then at 90 days, there was deterioration and usually a reoccurrence.
c) By the following year, many of the patients had opted for other types of treatment.
d) Patients who had never been treated faired the best of all.
Tennis Elbow Sufferers – Pay Attention To This One
And now let’s mentally zip out to the University of California in Los Angeles right in to the Department of Orthopedic Surgery.
Here the researchers found medical records of 97 patients with lateral epicondylitis and contacted 84 of them who hadn’t had treatment for the past 33 months.
Most patients were about 49 years old.
What they discovered was:
● First of all, 75% of the patients didn’t need surgery.
● Those who had one cortisone injection and it relieved their pain avoided surgery 88% of the time.
● Those who had multiple cortisone injections for tennis elbow only avoided surgery 44% of the time.
This research was published in the American Journal of Orthopedics in August 2001. (Source: Am J Orthop (Belle Mead NJ). 2001 Aug;30(8):642-6.)
Using natural methods to help cure your tennis elbow may be the only answer.
Check out Tennis Elbow Secrets Revealed.
You’ll be glad you did.