In August of 2022, Jon was on the golf course for a tournament, playing in a foursome with his father and two sons. But what should have been a fun family experience was marred by a lingering injury. The year before, Jon had hurt his right elbow while lifting something heavy, and he hadn’t felt right since.
But in the coming months it worsened. He received three rounds of cortisone injections in his injured elbow, but with each treatment, the pain returned more quickly, until the final shot provided just a month of relief.
His doctor diagnosed him with medial epicondylitis, commonly known as golfer’s elbow – pain from the inside of the elbow to the wrist, caused by damage to the tendons that bend the wrist toward the palm. Before deciding whether he’d start physical therapy, Jon tried to limit his activity to help his elbow heal on its own.
He was careful with his day-to-day movements – including his play that August day on the golf course. During the tournament, he had restricted himself to only chipping and putting, with no swings at full strength. But the temptation of a short par-3 hole, one that wouldn’t demand maximum effort, convinced him to try a tee shot.
Fortunately, Jon had already scheduled an Ortho RI Biologics consultation with Dr. Charlotte Moriarty, a primary care sports medicine physician at Ortho Rhode Island. Biologics are treatments that use the body’s own cells to help heal and regenerate some tissues. These innovative therapies can provide a nonsurgical alternative to get patients back to doing what they love.
With Jon’s elbow injury feeling worse than ever after the golf tournament, it was the perfect time to speak to Dr. Moriarty about Ortho RI Biologics. And the appointment gave him the support he needed to get on the road to recovery.
“She is fantastic,” Jon said of Dr. Moriarty. “She just listened. Not a lot of doctors sit and listen to you. She had my best interests in mind, and just wanted to help.”
Dr. Moriarty ordered an MRI for Jon. The results showed he had a significant tear in his flexor tendon nearly an inch long – almost detaching the tissue from the bone. And though the injury was serious, Jon was looking for an alternative to invasive surgery.
Dr. Moriarty recommended a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection. PRP is a concentration of platelets and growth factors created from a small amount of the patient’s own blood, which is injected into the site of injury to help induce the release of growth factors, stimulate the repair process, and speed healing. Dr. Moriarty provided literature for Jon to read, and he did his own research online to see what people were saying about Biologics.
Jon received his first PRP injection in September of 2022, and began attending physical therapy once a week, practicing simple stretching and movements that helped strengthen the injured area. By December, when he returned for a follow-up with Dr. Moriarty, Jon was pleased with his progress, describing himself as 80% recovered.
But he still wasn’t confident he could swing a golf club again, a key goal of his treatment. Dr. Moriarty explained that many patients see incremental benefit from a second round of PRP, and Jon decided to move forward with another injection in January of 2023. Now, he doesn’t feel any stiffness or soreness when he’s moving, and says he’s at 95%.
And this summer, less than a year after he first visited Ortho RI Biologics, Jon is back on the course with his sons. “Getting back to swinging a golf club – I never really thought I’d be able to do it again, based on that injury,” Jon said. “To be swinging at full speed less than a year after, I’m still amazed.”
“because it’s not invasive, the recovery time is very quick, and when it comes down to it… it’s having your body heal itself. No drugs or chemicals, no surgery. My body took care of itself – Biologics helped speed up the process.”