Is there a frozen shoulder surgery alternative treatment? A frozen shoulder (a.k.a. Adhesive Capsulitis) is a tough problem. Nobody knows for sure what causes it, yet it can turn a fully functional shoulder into one that can’t move at all in a matter of months. This was the case with a recent long standing patient of mine, who I had seen for other problems. She came in about 6 months ago with her left shoulder completely frozen (no range of motion in almost all directions). Frozen shoulder is often treated with either physical therapy (which she had tried and failed), MUA (Manipulation under Anesthesia), or open surgery where the scarred down joint capsule is cut with a scalpel. MUA is where the doctor puts the patient asleep and then performs aggressive range of motion to free the scarred down portions of the shoulder capsule (the thick leathery covering of the joint that allows normal motion). Through the years I’ve treated about 20 patients with MUA, but have always been disappointed with the results. Basically, all of these patients get some range of motion back, but within weeks the frozen shoulder gets “refrozen”. One of the reasons may be that these MUA procedures often use high dose steroids and anesthetics that are harmful to cartilage, but potent anti-inflammatories. In effect, in my opinion, as soon as these sledgehammer anti-inflammatories wear out, the joint goes back to where it started.
Frozen shoulder treatment with Regenexx-PL
This time I decided to try it differently. Rather than putting in these toxic steroid and anesthetic drugs, I substituted platelet lysate (Regenexx-PL procedure). After 4 MUA procedures with PL, the results are above. Her left shoulder has almost 100% normal range of motion back. Why do I think this worked this time? Rather than putting in drugs that are toxic to the shoulder (essentially making it sicker with each MUA), we placed the healing growth factors from her own blood platelets into the joint. This is just one patient, but I’m encouraged that this tweak of an existing technique may help other patients get back normal range of motion.
Not all patients treated with PL and MUA should expect to get return of full range of motion!