Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy - Golfer's Elbow
I hurt my elbow at the beginning of July, taking apart a huge fence for my sign wood. It's been diagnosed as "golfer's elbow". I've tried modifying, resting, icing, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy and a cortisone shot. But, 5 and 1/2 months later, it's still not any better.
So, next step...Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy and a *hope* that this will kickstart the healing process.
I'll continue to update the healing process here...
Day 1 (12/19/19) - Can't use my left arm for anything. Throbbing, aching, and sometimes shooting pain. I'm really glad Ben drove me to my appointment. I never would have been able to drive home.
Day 4 (12/22/19) - I'm doing my best to avoid using my left arm at all. Any pressure or weight on or in that hand hurts. Still taking tylenol and occasional Tramadol. Range of motion is slightly better than it was immediately after the injection, but I have trouble and paint when bending it to touch my face, or straightening it to reach for something. I find myself constantly thinking about it and protecting it around other people, which has been tiring.
Day 9 (12/27/19)- I don't feel like I need to protect my arm quite as much today and it hasn't dominated my every thought all day long. I have only taken tylenol once in the past 24 hours. While it's still tender and stiff, my range of motion is much better, and I can do most normal activities without much pain, though I'm still not lifting more than a pound or so with that arm. Still difficult to use a fork with my left hand, wash my face, put my hair in a ponytail, etc. Mobility and strength is still is not even to where it was right *before* the PRP injection, so doesn't feel healed in any way, but it's not SO much worse and unuseable like it has been over the past week.
2 Weeks (1/2/2020) - I'm able to do most normal movement. I still have pain when my arm is fully extended or fully bent. Putting pressure on anything still triggers pain, and my elbow is still tender to the touch. BUT, it's closer (though still a little worse) to how it was before I went in for PRP two weeks ago. Still taking tylenol once a day. Still trying not to lift anything with my left arm (when I forget, I switch hands). It's stiff in the morning, but feels much better when I'm exercising and it has warmed up. I've done some walking, bike riding and a few non-arm-using HIIT workouts.
3 Weeks (1/9/2020) - Not taking tylenol regularly anymore. Am much more comfortable driving. Wearing a wrist brace when doing a lot of phone-holding, typing or writing to remind myself to keep my wrist neutral. Range of motion is nearly full, but still hurts some at fully extended and fully bent. Putting pressure on anything is still painful. But I can at least partially brush my teeth with my left hand, which is pretty exciting (the motion and fully-bent angle is rough). Forearm muscle is starting to hurt some, which probably means I'm using my arm too much. Doing some fist-squeezing exercises throughout the day to start strengthening it, which may be making that muscle tweak.
5 1/2 weeks (1/28/2020) - Started physical therapy again last week. Initially it felt stronger after two days of therapy. Then very sore for two days. Then stronger and less irritated today. So, pressing on... At my doctor's visit last week, she said that if in two weeks we aren't noticing improvements, we may need to talk surgery. But if the therapy seems to be helping even some, it would be worth pressing through on that. Still not painting and trying to keep from doing any lifting or repetitive activities. Still having pain when brushing teeth, washing face, opening & closing doors, typing, etc.
7 weeks (2/5/2020) - Started painting again this week, although I'm not sure there's been much significant healing progress beyond where I was before the PRP injection. While my arm muscles seem to be getting stronger again (though they have severely weakened in the past 7 months from lack of use), the tendon injury itself is still very tender and sensitive to even slight pressure. Maybe my expectations are too high? Maybe it'll never be better? Maybe I need surgery? Maybe I'm just impatient. But at this point, I'm getting used to it just hurting and modifying everything that I do to accomodate it.
8 weeks (2/14/2020) - Well, what do you know? Within the last week, I've finally noticed significant improvement. Physical therapy exercises twice a day, and lots of firm pressure massage on the muscle in my forearm seem to finally be making an impact. I feel much stronger than I have in a long long time, and have worked up to 5lb weights when I'm doing my PT exercises. Full extension and bending of my arm just *barely* hurts now, and I can even put weight on my arm in a plank position without irritating it much (though I'm doing that VERY sparingly right now to ease back in). I can carry groceries in that arm now, close the car door with that hand, hold a plate, wash my face, brush my teeth, and boost myself up off a chair or the floor using that arm (at least partially) without feeling like it was straining my elbow.
11 weeks (3/6/2020) - This is the first week that I've felt like I could do almost all my normal-life activities without thinking about my arm. Including a full week of HIIT workouts. Because my upper body strength has diminished and my elbow is still slowly gaining strength, I'm still modifying pushups, burpees, and using lighter weights. BUT, I could *do* almost everything to some capacity. While I still have a nagging soreness or pain occasionally, it's definitely healing.