Frozen shoulder? New non-surgical treatment improves pain and function

adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder, embolization, A new non-invasive treatment decreases blood flow in the shoulder to quickly reduce pain and improve function in people with frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis).

Frozen shoulder gradually causes significant pain and stiffness of the joint. Symptoms are often treated with physiotherapy or pain killers, until they resolve within one to three years.

A team of radiologists found that if they inserted a catheter through a pinhole-sized incision in the wrist, it could be used to feed microsphere particles into as many as six arteries in the shoulder to reduce inflammation. The treatment was completed in 16 people and took around one hour.

Each person’s pain, disability and blood flow in the shoulder were measured before and after the treatment and MRI imaging was used to visualize the shoulder joint.

One month later, researchers followed the progress of 11 patients and found that all pain levels had improved along with physical function. Additional progress was reported at the three-month follow up.

“Patients with frozen shoulder are essentially told to tough it out until their symptoms improve, but considering the significant pain and decreased function many experience, we looked to determine if this treatment model of embolization, already in use in other areas of the body, could provide immediate and durable relief,” explains lead author, Dr Sandeep Bagla. “We were shocked at the profound and dramatic improvement patients experienced in pain and use of their shoulder.

“We are early in the investigation of this treatment but are inspired by its effectiveness in reducing pain and range of motion in patients’ shoulders.”

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