Transcatheter arterial embolization (TAE), an image-guided, non-surgical treatment could effectively treat tennis elbow, a painful chronic condition that affects up to 3 percent of the U.S. adult population. According to the research, the therapy would decrease abnormal blood flow to the injured area to reduce inflammation and pain.
The condition, also known as lateral epicondylitis, stems from repetitive stress injuries that occur in activities such as sports, typing and knitting, and the injury is common in carpenters, cooks and assembly line workers impacting basic tasks that affect job performance and quality of life.
"Tennis elbow can be difficult to treat, leaving many patients unable to perform the simplest tasks, such as picking up their children, cooking dinner, or even working on a computer. With this frustration, many patients turn to invasive major surgery after years of failed physical therapy and medication use," said Yuji Okuno, MD, PhD, founder of the Okuno Clinic in Japan and lead author of the study. "We were interested to see if this technique, already in use in other areas of the body, would be effective for this common, debilitating condition and help people immediately regain a range of motion that many of us take for granted in our everyday tasks."
The treatment can be completed in approximately one hour and requires only a needle hole to access the radial artery in the wrist under local anesthesia. A catheter is moved through the wrist to the elbow where the inflamed blood vessels are embolized, preventing excessive blood flow to the affected part of the elbow. The treatment is safe and effective and doesn't require physical therapy, researchers said. No adverse events were observed and no patients experienced negative effects to the surrounding bones, cartilage or muscles.
Tennis elbow is caused by overuse and repetitive stress to the tendons and muscles around the elbow. It typically affects people who play sports with repetitive swinging motions, such as tennis or golf, but it can also affect job performance of carpenters, cooks, assembly-line workers and others. While pain is a hallmark symptom, chronic tennis elbow can cause loss of grip and arm strength, limited use of the arm, and burning sensations on the outer portion of the arm.