Platelet-rich plasma and the shoulder: clinical indications and outcomes

Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2018 Dec;11(4):593-597. doi: 10.1007/s12178-018-9517-9.


Purpose of review: The orthopedic community has seen a rapid rise in the clinical use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in the management of shoulder pathologies over the past decade. The purpose of this paper is to review the current literature regarding the indications and outcomes of PRP for the surgical and non-surgical management of common shoulder pathologies, including rotator cuff tears.

Recent findings: Multiple studies have been published recently regarding the use of PRP for the operative and non-operative treatment of rotator cuff tears. There has been less research published on the use of PRP in the management of other conditions of the shoulder. Despite attempts to standardize and classify PRP formulations, there remains great variation in the inter- and intra-subjection composition, preparation, and administration techniques of PRP, limiting the conclusions that can be drawn regarding the utility and effectiveness of this biologic treatment as reported by Mazzocca et al. (J Bone Joint Surg Am. 94(4):308-16, 2012). Recent literature has shown equivocal to minor benefit of PRP use for shoulder pain, function, and healing. While few complications have been reported and PRP administration appears to carry little risk to the patient, the body of literature is currently inconclusive regarding the clinical benefit and cost-effectiveness of PRP in the treatment of shoulder pathology. As for PRP use specifically as an adjunct to surgical rotator cuff repairs, there is no clear consensus on its effectiveness in either clinical or structural outcomes. To further delineate the efficacy of PRP for shoulder pathology, it is essential that more double-blinded, randomized controlled investigations with large sample sizes and standardized PRP preparations be performed.

Keywords: Biologic augmentation; PRP; Platelet-rich plasma; Regenerative medicine; Rotator cuff tear; Shoulder.

Publication types

  • Review