Mahir Reiss: Cortisone Shots May Be as Effective as Placebos

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Mahir Reiss, physical therapist, reacts to research that indicates that cortisone shots for tennis elbow may not be as effective as once thought.

Tennis elbow is a relatively common ailment that has, traditionally, been treated with a cortisone shot. But an article posted by NPR reveals that a new study has uncovered that placebos may be just as effective as the actual treatment—or more so. Mahir Reiss, a physical therapist, believes that this is the kind of finding that highlights the importance of ongoing research and the essential nature of discovery in the medical field.

According to the article, "The pain of tennis elbow (official name, lateral epicondylalgia) seems to be caused by damage to the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the elbow, but not by inflammation. It's becoming more common, and can be caused by repetitive gripping of a computer mouse, smartphone, or other gizmo, not just a tennis racket." Cortisone, which is a steroid, is the traditional treatment for tennis elbow, but the article asserts that the reasons why this method of treatment would work are not clear; however, the article cites a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that reveals that 12 percent of the participants who were treated with a placebo, as opposed to approximately 50 percent of participants who received cortisone, experienced a relapse of symptoms with the year.

Leon Benson, who is an upper-extremity surgeon at the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute, says, "If you do nothing at all for this condition, it will eventually go away." But because "eventually" can mean several years when it comes to tennis elbow, he is recommending the cortisone shots in conjunction with pain relievers and physical therapy.

Mahir Reiss believes that this kind of a study can have a major impact on the field of physical therapy and that it is a shining example of the importance of continually researching a variety of medical conditions, even those that are more commonplace.

"Research is a key part of medicine," asserts Reiss, "and continuing to study a wide range of medical problems is the best way to build up our knowledge of the medical field. This study shows that we certainly don't know everything that there is to know about tennis elbow or the lasting effects of cortisone, both of which are considered relatively commonplace. Constantly reevaluating our understanding of the human body and of how we can best care for it is essential in moving the medical industry into the future and increasing the quality of care that patients receive—as well as the occurrence of positive patient outcomes."


Mahir Reiss is a licensed physical therapist in San Diego, California. He has established a private practice, where he serves a diverse clientele. Mahir Reiss provides his services to professional athletes, elderly individuals, and other patients who suffer from injury and illness. Mahir Reiss aims to assist his patients in healing from physical conditions and creating a higher quality of life.

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Joshua Maldender
PR Management Inc.
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