The purpose of this prospective, randomized study was to compare the efficacy of autologous platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections and arthroscopic lateral release in treating chronic lateral epicondylitis (LE).
Patients who had a clinical diagnosis of LE confirmed by ultrasound (US) were included in this study. A total of 101 patients received arthroscopic release (n = 50) or US-guided PRP injections (n = 51). Outcomes were assessed using a visual analog scale for pain, the Patient-Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation (PRTEE), and a calibrated hand dynamometer for grip strength.
Both patient groups experienced significant improvement in all measures. Between-group comparisons showed a significantly higher value in the PRP group only for grip strength at week 8 (P = .0073); all other significant differences were in favor of arthroscopy: overall pain (P = .0021), night pain (P = .0013), and PRTEE score (P = .0013) at week 104 and grip strength at weeks 24, 52, and 104 (all P < .0001). Consumption of rescue pain medication was not significantly different between the groups.
The present findings suggest that (1) PRP injections and arthroscopic extensor carpi radialis brevis release are both effective in the short and medium term; (2) PRP patients experienced a significant worsening of pain at 2 years; (3) arthroscopic release ensured better long-term outcomes in terms of pain relief and grip strength recovery; and (4) both procedures were safe and well accepted by patients. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level II, prospective comparative study.
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