Rotator cuff injuries are one of the most common injuries and can occur from a variety of different traumatic events. These injuries are most commonly associated with throwing injuries, slips, and falls. It is also very common to see these injuries following a MVA and they typically occur on the side that the seatbelt crosses the shoulder. A thorough examination often will reveal the precise cause of the symptoms and interventional treatments can be considered including steroid injections, although on a long term basis this is likely not the best treatment option (long term use of steroids can damage tendons, ligaments, and cartilage). Regenerative therapy techniques provide good long term results and a chance for permanent cure of the underlying condition without surgery. We have found a high success rate at Connecticut Pain Care with the treatment of rotator cuff injuries using PRP therapy. Patient selection is paramount to success as not all lesions are amenable to this form of therapy.
The recovery period from PRP injection for a rotator cuff injury (versus traditional open surgery) is associated with significantly less pain, and a shorter period of acute soreness (a few days vs. weeks/months). No sling is required and most work can be resumed within one week. Both interventions require 4-6 months for full healing and an extended course of therapy/rehabilitation. PRP therapy is not associated with the potential for the development of progressive arthritis, whereas open surgical intervention in the shoulder (or any joint) has been claimed by some to be associated with the later development of progressive osteoarthritis. Partial thickness and full thickness rotator cuff tears without retraction can effectively be treated with PRP therapy or regenerative medicine. Typically these tendons are injected under direct ultrasound guidance to allow placement of PRP directly into the area of tearing, additional PRP is usually injected into the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint. PRP is not effective for rotator cuff tears which are associated with retraction of the tendon (i.e. – the two ends of the tendon are no longer connected but instead have pulled back or retracted from each other).