Elbow Tendonitis and PRP

Elbow pain? Can’t shoot your bow without sharp pains in your elbow? Well, don’t give up hope. During the summer of 2011, I began to notice pain on the outside of my bow arm elbow. “Tennis elbow!” all of my friend told me.

I iced it, took anti-inflammatory medications and pressed on. The pain was bearable during the 2011 IBO World Championship. In fact, I was able to shoot through it, and win the worlds that year, but soon after worlds it rapidly got worse.

Over the following two and half years I received three corticosteroid injections, and considered a witch doctor. Each injection enabled me to shoot for four to six months’ pain free, and then it returned with a vengence. I soon noticed a knot forming on my elbow. I tried to take periods off, but it killed me not shooting – I was stubborn!

My ability to practice appropriately soon became impossible, which led to poor performances in tournaments, and that resulted in frustration and depression. In November 2013, an orthopedic surgeon recommended that I try a Platelet Rich Plasma (PHP) injection. I agreed. I would have tried anything at that point.

They drew a vile of my own blood and spun it, which neatly separated the platelets from the red and white blood cells. The surgeon then drew out the platelets with a syringe, and injected it directly into the most painful area. The platelets attacked the area thus stimulating my own body to heal it. Within a week I could tell a difference. It was working! In December I returned, and asked him to give me one more injection before I departed for Afghanistan.

I deployed to Afghanistan the first week of January with no bow. I planned to give the arm a complete rest from shooting. Convinced that I needed to strengthen the arm, I hit the gym pretty heavily, but I let pain be my guide as to how much that arm could handle. At first it was sore, but still seemed to be improving. It’s April 25, as write this and I have been completely pain free for over two weeks. There was a time that I could not pick up a soda can with my left hand. If I bumped the elbow I was in tears. Today, I am hammering in the gym and back to normal activity.

If you are suffering from tendonitis in your elbow see your doctor and ask about PHP. Best of luck.

7 responses to “Elbow Tendonitis and PRP

  1. Jimmy- thank you so much for posting this incredible discovery. My own elbow tendonitis has never gotten as bad as it once was, but have to watch my right forearm like a hawk whenever I practice guitar intensely. Not an archery prob. for me, but for awhile I was so crippled I had to do everything lefty- for about a year.

    Glad you’re back in business, and this PHP treatment could be a life-saver for a ton of folks in many different activities. For much less severe levels of elbow tendonitis I have found that push-ups on the knuckles of the clenched fists has a great conditioning and protective effect if done daily- 20 reps or more, as many sets as possible. An old Karate training exercise from my younger days, one of my music students who is a black belt in Kempo and a tendonitis survivor reminded me of it last year- but I will keep this new PHP information on hand for when ever. This disorder can always come back and bite you if you are careless. Aging doesn’t help either.

    Are you staying in touch with LH shooting at all? I am now addicted to shooting both sides- I’m not good enough to compete meaningfully anyway, so I favor balance over being as good as I could be, shooting only one side.

    Best of luck to you- out of the demon’s grip at last!

    • I was shooting left handed last fall a good bit, but I am in Afghanistan so I’m not keeping up with either hand. I’ll try and shoot right handed when I return because my practice time will be limited in the coming years.

  2. I had the same problem for years. The doctor gave me several types of shots in the elbow, some helped temporarily. On one visit he suggested an exercise. I followed his direction on the exercise and my elbow problems were gone in about a month. Here is what I do: put the fingers of your hand against a wall or the side of your face or any objet that will not move. Push your arm so you are bending your fingers and the palm of your hand backwards over your wrist. You do not have to push very hard, you just want to stretch the arm muscles. Before I retired I had to drive on my job and I did the exercise while driving by pushing against the roof of the car or the steering wheel or the side of my face. I did this for a few seconds many times each day, maybe 20 or so. After a couple of weeks of this my elbow began to feel better. In about a month the pain was totally gone. I still do these exercise from time to time and my elbow problems have never returned. I do not remember the exact explanation the doctor gave me as to why this worked, but it had something to do with the tendons on the opposite side of the elbow gaining strength and the stretching helped offset the tendons in the elbow.
    It worked very well for me, try it.

  3. Again, with a little more medical detail, I would like to publish this in Archery Focus magazine (steve@archeryfocus.com).

    I had a similar experience and we need to learn that anti-inflammatories and painkillers and corticosteroids often mask the symptoms while we go on our merry way making the situation worse. Up to this point I thought that the only effective treatment was to turn around and shoot from the other side of the bow. This looks promising. Are you interested in writing such an article? If so, email me.

    • Some facilities have the ability to spin the blood, which gives them the ability to inject you with pure platelets. Other doctors do whole blood injections. It can help but the problem is that they can only inject so much, so spinning the blood and getting 100% platelets allows them to get more punch in one injection.

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