Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections are at Least Equivalent to Corticosteroid Injections for Adhesive Capsulitis: A Systematic Review of Prospective Cohort Studies

Published:January 25, 2023DOI:



      To evaluate the role of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) for adhesive capsulitis (AC) as compared to other injectables.


      A literature search was performed on PubMed and Embase online databases identifying articles evaluating injection therapy for the treatment of AC. Inclusion criteria included prospective studies comparing PRP against alternative injectables with a minimum 15 patients in each treatment arm and a minimum 12-week follow-up. Pain scores, range of motion, and function scores were the primary outcomes assessed.


      Five articles met inclusion criteria comparing PRP to corticosteroid or saline injections. There were 157 patients treated with PRP with follow-up duration ranging from three to six months. All five studies demonstrated statistically significant improvement in pain scores, motion, and function scores for patients receiving PRP, corticosteroid, and saline injections. However, PRP was consistently superior on intergroup analyses in all but one study. In four studies, pain and function scores favored PRP over control at final follow-up (range in mean difference for VAS pain score: -2.2 – 0.69, n=5 and SPADI score: -50.5 – -4.0, n=3) while three studies found greater improvement in shoulder motion after PRP (range in mean difference for forward flexion: 0.7 – 34.3 degrees and external rotation -2.3 – 20.4 degrees, n=4). One study found no significant difference between PRP and corticosteroid injections, but noted results were comparable.


      According to a limited number of prospective studies, PRP injections for AC is at least equivalent to corticosteroid or saline injections and often leads to improved pain, motion, and functional outcomes at 3–6-month follow-up. Given the small number of studies, with design heterogeneity, there is insufficient evidence to routinely recommend PRP for AC. However, the results are promising and do support considering PRP as an adjunct treatment option for AC, especially for patients refractory and/or averse to corticosteroids or alternative treatment modalities.

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