Sports Medicine | PRP for Triceps Tendon Injury
A tendon is a strong, tight band of connective tissue that joins your muscle to a bone. The inflammation of tendons is termed as tendonitis. The triceps is the muscle that is used to extend and straighten your arm. When this tendon is inflamed with or without degeneration, its defined as triceps tendonitis.
A triceps tendon injury is not as rare as commonly reported and may often be clinically under-diagnosed.
It is a painful condition that can limit the daily functioning capabilities of the patient. You may begin to feel the pain at the back of your upper arm, just near the elbow.
Triceps tendonitis is caused due to the overuse of the triceps muscle. Excessive force such as throwing, lifting weights, or hammering may lead to inflammation of the tendons.Muscle builders often complain of triceps tendonitis. Triceps tendonitis can also be caused by a direct blow to the tendon or the triceps muscle.
Excessive physical activity and failing to stretch before you exercise can lead to the development of triceps tendonitis. You need to consult your doctor before you begin any strenuous activities.
Symptoms can vary for triceps tendonitis. You may experience pain when you flex or extend your elbow. The pain is usually located in the lower part of the back of the arm.
Bruising and swelling around the back of your arm (where your elbow is located) could be another symptom of triceps tendonitis. Pain seems to intensify every time you put increased amount of strain or pressure on the triceps.
You may also experience tenderness just above the backside of the elbow.
Based on symptoms and reviewing your medical history, your doctor will be able to diagnose the condition. A Physiotherapist or an orthopeadic physician who practices sports medicine would be suitable to diagnose your condition. While examining, he will look at your triceps carefully for any swelling or redness. He will gently apply pressure on the area you are concerned with to see if it gives you pain. He may order an x-ray. An X-ray is needed to see if there is a chip of bone around the tendon causing the tendonitis. An MRI can also be used to potentially help diagnose this condition. Laboratory studies may be indicated if your doctor rules out any associated systemic, inflammatory, or metabolic disease.
Triceps tendonitis is a treatable condition, but some cases cannot be cured. To relieve pain, you may have to stop all activities that cause an increase in pain.
There are some common treatment options to manage triceps tendonitis. Conservative approaches such as rest and applying ice packs may provide temporary relief. You can apply an ice pack on the painful area for 20 to 30 minutes 3 to 4 times daily until the pain goes away.
Your doctor may prescribe certain anti-inflammatory drugs to manage your pain and inflammation.
You can use braces or straps as a treatment for triceps tendinitis. Braces work by alleviating the pressure from the inflamed tendon. They are applied by wrapping the brace around the lower part of the triceps during activities that cause discomfort or pain.
If you believe you have one of the more severe cases of triceps tendonitis, it is important to get it looked at by your doctor as soon as possible.
Your physiotherapist may recommend certain exercises to help treat this condition. Kneeling push-ups, dumbbell kickbacks, and French stretches are other rehabilitation exercises that you can utilize to strengthen and rehabilitate the triceps.
Can platelet rich plasma injections be a reliable form of treatment?
PRP for Triceps Tendonitis / Tendinosis
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy is considered by many to be a ground breaking treatment for soft tissue injuries. PRP’s popularity seems to be patient driven. Word of its effectiveness spread like wild fire after world famous athletes such as Alex Rodriguez, Hines Ward and Tiger Woods to name a few, used it with great success. Doctors and the medical community seem to be more slowly in coming along, but acceptance of the procedure is growing as studies prove its effectiveness. Individuals that suffer from triceps tendonitis or tendinosis may find PRP to be an appropriate form of care. It is definitely worthy of consideration especially if an individual’s current course of treatment is failing or has failed in the past.
When a person undergoes PRP therapy, a small amount of their blood is drawn. It is placed in a centrifuge where its blood components are separated. The platelets are removed and injected into the site of the injury. Platelets are used because of the growth factors they contain. Growth factors play a crucial role in the body’s natural healing processes.
Triceps tendonitis is characterized by inflammation in the triceps tendon. It is extremely painful but the outlook is generally good with proper care. Icing and resting the triceps is recommended, as is taking anti-inflammation medications. Complete rest is not required but a person will want to limit their activity and refrain from any that might be considered strenuous. A brand new case of tendonitis should heal after 2 to 4 weeks with treatment. An older case of the condition may take about 4 to 6 weeks. PRP might be recommended if the condition is not responding to traditional treatment or an athlete needs to return to their sport in a shorter amount of time.
Though some people incorrectly use the terms tendonitis and tendinosis interchangeably, the conditions are much different. Tendonitis, as mentioned above, is the inflammation of the tendon while tendinosis is the degeneration of the tendon’s collagen fibers. Tendinosis can take between 8 weeks and 9 months to heal. Traditional treatment for this condition includes ice, rest, friction massage and anti-inflammatory medicines. PRP therapy is a great option for those with tendinosis. It may be able to significantly reduce the time it takes the injury to heal itself.
A doctor may use PRP therapy to treat either tendonitis or tendinosis when traditional treatment protocols aren’t working. They may also do so if a patient is eager to resume activity. There are other options when this is the case, such as cortisone shots (tendonitis). There is, however, a downside to cortisone injections. Cortisone tends to break down collagen fibers which can make the tendon more susceptible to rupturing.
PRP injections cost between $500 and $1500. Most insurance companies do not cover the therapy because it is too new and considered semi-experimental. Individuals who are considering PRP therapy, but who can’t afford to pay for the procedure in full, should ask whether or not the doctor performing the procedure accepts installment payments.
FAQ: Questions To Ask Your Doctor
1. Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
2. How many injections will I need?
3. What are the possible side effects of PRP therapy?
4. What happens if PRP therapy doesn’t work for me?
5. When should I start seeing results?
If ignored and left untreated, there could be further damage to the tendon. This can lead to a permanent injury leaving surgery as the only option for treatment.
The success rate of treatment for patients with triceps tendonitis is largely dictated by patient compliance. If you do exactly what your doctor and physical therapist tell you to do, the prognosis is generally good.
Most of the patients with triceps tendonitis heal well when treated appropriately with physiotherapy. You can expect to return to your routine in a number of weeks. In patients who have had this condition for a longer period of time, it may take significantly longer to rehabilitate. Early physiotherapy treatment is vital to speed up recovery. There is a long-lasting complication if the patient is not treated adequately. You must weigh the benefits and risks of exercise as it can lead to permanent damage of the tendons.
Triceps tendonitis is best prevented by reducing the over use of the upper arm and elbow and being cautious while exercising and lifting weights. It is important to recognize early symptoms so you do not make your injury worse by overactivity.
Questions a physician may ask you about your condition on your first doctor visit
- When did you first notice the pain and how severe is the pain?
- Is it getting worse day to day?
- Have you tried any treatments at home? If yes, has it helped?
- Do you have any other illness or are you taking any medicine?
- Do you work out or play sports?
- How long do you practice and what kind of sports?
- Are you still able to perform your sports at a satisfactory level?
- Were you recently injured? How were you injured?
- Were you ever diagnosed with triceps tendonitis? If yes, were you treated adequately and followed the rehab exercises?
- Have you ignored any of your previous injuries?