Newport Beach, California (PressExposure) August 05, 2013 -- In a recent issue of their official newsletter, the Mayo Clinic announced their recent development of a treatment for tennis elbow that could eliminate the need for surgery in patients who aren't responding to more conventional methods, a new approach that's applauded by Dr. Ralph Venuto (http://www.drvenuto.com), a prominent Orange County orthopedic surgeon. The new technique, called fasciotomy and surgical tenotomy (or sometimes referred to as the FAST technique), begins with the administration of a local anesthetic to numb the area. No incision is required. Next, the scar tissue within the tendon responsible for causing the elbow pain is located via ultrasound imaging. A special instrument is inserted to deliver targeted ultrasonic waves that break up the scar tissue, and the treated tissue is removed via suction.
"Surgery is not the first method of treatment preferred for tennis elbow in my own patients, so it's great to see an alternative possibility on the horizon," says Dr. Venuto, a Southern California tennis elbow specialist who also treats a variety of other joint disorders and injuries.
The pain from tennis elbow occurs when the tendon tissue develops small tears and otherwise degenerates in response to a repetitive stress injury within the tendon. Scar tissue in the tendon develops as a result. Continued repetitive movement prevents the tendon from ever healing completely.
The conservative approach to tennis elbow treatment focuses on rest combined with physical therapy and wearing a supportive brace, which allows the tendon to fully heal and helps correct future misuse of the joint. Patients may also use over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen to help reduce pain and inflammation.
However, the conservative approach to treatment fails to help in approximately 10 percent of patients with tennis elbow. At that point, corticosteroid injections are often incorporated as part of the treatment plan.
"I've found that repeated use of cortisone can lead to complete rupture of the tendon origin," says Dr. Venuto. "My preference is to focus on platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections for the tennis elbow patients at my Newport Beach practice ."
Dr. Venuto was one of the first physicians in the country to incorporate the use of PRP injections at his practice. Platelets in the blood contain regenerative cells known as growth factors that help to stabilize and repair strained or injured tissues while providing the necessary nutrients needed for healing.
In PRP treatment, the surgeon collects a small sample of the patient's own blood and separates out the platelet-rich plasma. The concentrated serum is then injected back into the site of injury to foster and accelerate healing. This treatment is performed as an outpatient procedure, and is often promoted as a natural and more cost-effective alternative to surgery.
"PRP can be combined with the other elements of conservative tennis elbow treatment for more comprehensive results without surgery," explains Dr. Venuto. "I find surgery for tennis elbow is only variably successful."
Tennis elbow surgery removes the scar tissue from the affected joint. The procedure may be performed as open surgery, or can be accomplished arthroscopically. Open surgery requires cutting through healthy tissue in order to access the affected tendon. The less invasive arthroscopic approach uses a tiny camera inserted through a small incision near the joint, through which the surgeon can conduct the surgery by viewing images projected on a larger screen in the operating room.