Cortisone shots have been a common treatment for bone and joint injuries for years. Do they actually make the problem better or just make the person feel better? Can they actually slow healing? In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I discuss cortisone shots for tennis elbow.

Chris asks:
If cortisone is more for pain relief, then in essence it is not promoting healing. For tennis elbow, would it be better to look at injections with a medicine to promote the healing process? Also, if this is an option, what kind of medicinal injectables are available?

Cortisone shots are basically an injection of an anti-inflammatory steroid. For lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), the doctor injects cortisone into the diseased tendon on the outside of the elbow. While it can provide pain relief for weeks or months, studies have shown a higher recurrence rate in patients who receive cortisone. Basically, the patient might feel better temporarily, but the problem might be more likely to come back.

Many surgeons are using platelet-rich plasma to treat tennis elbow in addition to a counterforce strap, physical therapy and activity modification. In this video, I discuss some of the concerns about cortisone as well as the theory behind PRP use for tennis elbow.

Also read:
Ask Dr. Geier: Triceps tendon injury
Ask Dr. Geier: Treatment of flexor-pronator injuries

Location of pain from tennis elbow

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