Purpose: 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).
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusions: 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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