Study backs injections for tennis elbow

You don't have to play sports to suffer a "sports injury," but you'd better have an athlete's salary if you hope to pay for any of the mainstream treatments.

The latest superstar-backed procedure involves drawing the patient's blood, whipping it around in a centrifuge to separate the cells, and injecting the platelet-rich plasma into injured tendons and ligaments to stimulate the healing process.

It's been used by guys like Tiger Woods, and at between $500 and $2,500 a pop -- not covered by insurance, by the way -- you can see why it's out of reach for most people.

Now, researchers say you can skip the centrifuge business and just inject whole blood into the tendon. It doesn't work quite as well -- but since it costs a lot less, maybe it's worth the tradeoff.

Researchers compared the two treatments in 28 tennis elbow patients and found that those who got the Tiger Woods-level plasma-rich cells had a 61.47 percent improvement after six weeks, while those who got the "lite" version had a 41.6 percent improvement.

Encouraging? Maybe -- but don't sign up for either treatment yet, because the research on PRP has been a pretty mixed bag over the years. And as anyone who's seen Woods' mediocre play lately can tell you, he's not exactly a swinging endorsement for it.

It shows how difficult soft tissue injuries are: Here's a guy with all the money in the world -- even after the divorce -- and even he can't make a full recovery.

But that doesn't mean there's no hope for you -- because you've got something Tiger Woods doesn't (and I don't mean a happy marriage).

You've got me.

I had the full scoop on tendon injuries like tennis elbow in the March issue of my newsletter, including the reasons your own doc will botch the diagnosis and leave you in more agony than ever before.

More importantly, I've got the simple and inexpensive four-step plan that can chase away the pain for good.

You don't need a million bucks for my answers -- just a subscription to the Douglass Report, which you can take care of right here.