Glenohumeral joint injections: a review

Sports Health. 2013 Mar;5(2):153-9. doi: 10.1177/1941738112459706.


Context: Intra-articular injections into the glenohumeral joint are commonly performed by musculoskeletal providers, including orthopaedic surgeons, family medicine physicians, rheumatologists, and physician assistants. Despite their frequent use, there is little guidance for injectable treatments to the glenohumeral joint for conditions such as osteoarthritis, adhesive capsulitis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Evidence acquisition: We performed a comprehensive review of the available literature on glenohumeral injections to help clarify the current evidence-based practice and identify deficits in our understanding. We searched MEDLINE (1948 to December 2011 [week 1]) and EMBASE (1980 to 2011 [week 49]) using various permutations of intra-articular injections AND (corticosteroid OR hyaluronic acid) and (adhesive capsulitis OR arthritis).

Results: We identified 1 and 7 studies that investigated intra-articular corticosteroid injections for the treatment of osteoarthritis and adhesive capsulitis, respectively. Two and 3 studies investigated the use of hyaluronic acid in osteoarthritis and adhesive capsulitis, respectively. One study compared corticosteroids and hyaluronic acid injections in the treatment of osteoarthritis, and another discussed adhesive capsulitis.

Conclusion: Based on existing studies and their level of evidence, there is only expert opinion to guide corticosteroid injection for osteoarthritis as well as hyaluronic acid injection for osteoarthritis and adhesive capsulitis.

Keywords: arthritis; corticosteroid; glenohumeral; hyaluronic acid; injection.