Pitcher’s Elbow Explained
Officially known as an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) sprain, pitcher’s elbow is very common but not limited to baseball pitchers. The sprain involves the excessive pulling and stretching of the tendons and ligaments in the inner elbow area, resulting in pain around the inner elbow’s knobby bump. The pain may dissipate with rest but return once activities are resumed.
The condition can erupt from a trauma to the outstretched arm or, more commonly, from repetitive motion at the elbow. The overhead throw pitchers use is a prime example of such motion, as are movements or trauma associated with sports such as tennis, football, water polo, wrestling, hockey, gymnastics and track and field.
Treatment Options: Surgery vs. Stem Cell Therapy
Tommy John surgery is the common name of the surgical procedure used to correct an UCL sprain. Created by Dr. Frank Jobe, the procedure is named after Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Tommy John, who underwent the first surgery of this type in 1974.
Also known as UCL reconstruction, the invasive procedure involves correcting the damaged UCL with a tendon taken from another area in the patient’s body. While the surgery has been successful in some cases, the recovery period can be extensive. It can take longer than one year to recover, with a considerable rehabilitation period lasting anywhere from 12 to 18 months.
Stem Cell and Platelet Therapy
Fast-forward 40 years, and surgery is no longer the only option for correcting pitcher’s elbow. Treatment options have expanded to include non-surgical procedures with far less recovery time and less scar tissue, such as regenerative injection therapy.
SmartChoice® Adult Stem Cell Procedures can help improve function and reduce the pain associated with an UCL injury. For the procedure, Dr. Garg uses an injection of the patient’s own adult stem cells and PRP to prompt healing of the damaged tissue. The injection is done in an office setting and generally results in very little downtime.
Before recommending the procedure, Dr. Garg performs a physical examination and imaging to determine if pitcher’s elbow is indeed the cause of duress. He can use an X-ray or MRI to get a closer look at the elbow area and assess if SmartChoice® Procedures may be helpful.
Research has shown stem cell therapy can be highly effective for the treatment of damaged ligaments. Two studies published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine report on the procedure’s effectiveness. One notes PRP is successful for treating a partial UCL tear in athletes. The other says the procedure is safe and has been effective for the treatment of chronic tennis elbow, a condition similar to pitcher's elbow.
SmartChoice® Procedure Benefits
In addition to drastically reducing recovery time, SmartChoice® adult stem cell procedures come with numerous advantages over surgery. Because stem cells and PRP are from the patient’s own blood and tissues, there is little to no risk of tissue rejection or infection. The procedure is conveniently performed in an office setting, rather than a costly operating room, and it takes advantage of the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
To find out if stem cell therapy is right for you, please contact our office today at 904-997-6100. Or visit us at SmartChoiceStemCell.com to learn more about our out-patient, non-surgical procedures to treat your sports injury or arthritis.