(Photo : Reuters )
A new study reveals that receiving a cortisone injection is not an effective treatment for tennis elbow.
Researchers discovered that after getting steroid shots for a few weeks, patients did report less pain and disability than people who were given placebo injections. However, those patients were less likely to make a full recovery in the long run as compared to the placebo group.
"This absolutely confirms that steroid injections are not a good idea," said Dr. Allan Mishra, an orthopedic surgeon at Stanford University in Menlo Park, Calif. "This is important, because people think that it's okay to get a cortisone injection (for tennis elbow), and it's not okay. It puts you at a disadvantage long term in terms of getting better," Mishra told Reuters Health.
Tennis elbow is a result of overusing tendons in the elbow and is usually treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy and steroid shots.
Another study from Denmark revealed that neither steroid nor platelet injections actually improved pain over a period of three months in patients afflicted with tennis elbow---not any better than saline shots did.
But researchers say that the follow-up period was short and that results might take a different turn after six months to a year post-injection.
Mishra said that research is being conducted to figure out more effective treatments to treat the root problem that causes tendon pain to begin with, like weakening of collagen in the tendon. One of those treatments is something called a platelet-rich plasma injection, but it is only in preliminary stages of research.
Tennis elbow can retreat on its own after some time and with some basic stretching, according to Mishra.
"I think home-based exercises are probably sufficient for treating this," he said. "You'd be better off with that than with a cortisone injection. That's what you should start with, because you might not even need physical therapy."