Adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, is a disorder where the connective tissue in your shoulder capsule thickens and restricts movement. Some demographics, like diabetics, are more prone to developing this issue. However, it is also quite common for people to develop frozen shoulder after a period of immobilization, like when a broken arm needs a cast. Frozen shoulder may gradually get better, but without treatment, some people may not see a return to their full range of motion. Physical therapy and corticosteroid injections are common treatments for frozen shoulder. If you've developed frozen shoulder and aren't seeing improvements in your current treatments, you may want to ask your doctor about PRP therapy.  

What is PRP Therapy?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a component of your blood that is mainly made up of proteins and water. It acts as a medium for white/red blood cells as well as platelets, which are tiny cells that form clots and help with the body's healing processes. During PRP therapy, your doctor will take a concentration of your own plasma and then inject it into the shoulder capsule to reduce inflammation and encourage tissue remodeling.

During PRP therapy, your doctor might also infuse the plasma with stem cells. Stem cells are unique because they can develop into different cells with specific functions, like bone cells, and they can help regenerate and repair damaged tissue.

How Does it Work for Frozen Shoulder?

To improve frozen shoulder symptoms, your doctor might do an intra-articular injection, which means he or she may inject the PRP directly into your joint—this type of injection is commonly used for people with osteoarthritis. They may also inject PRP into the shoulder bursa, a fluid-filled sac that cushions gliding surfaces in large joints. You may be slightly sore after an injection, but these treatments shouldn't hurt as your doctor will use a local anesthetic or numbing cream before the injection. After PRP therapy, you may experience some mild side effects, like bruising at the site. Every patient is different, but you will usually only need a couple of injections over a few months to start seeing improvements in your symptoms.  

How Does it Improve Frozen Shoulder?

One study found that PRP therapy was able to decrease pain, improve upper limb functioning, and increase range of motion in various directions. Another study found that PRP therapy was more effective at treating frozen shoulder than procaine, a local anesthetic. If you are struggling to complete your physical therapy, then PRP injections can be beneficial because you'll be able to reduce your pain and improve your tolerance for exercises. A combination of PRP injections with physical therapy can help some patients avoid invasive treatments, like surgery.

Reach out to a health and medical provider today for more details about PRP injections.