The Efficacy of Injections for Partial Rotator Cuff Tears: A Systematic Review

J Clin Med. 2020 Dec 25;10(1):51. doi: 10.3390/jcm10010051.


(1) Background: Even though rotator cuff tears are the most frequent tendon injuries in adults, the effectiveness of conservatively treated partial-thickness tears still remains a matter of debate. The purpose of this review is to compare corticosteroid injections to other drugs in the treatment of partial rotator cuff tears, focusing on the effectiveness of this therapeutic modality in terms of pain and shoulder functionality. (2) Methods: A systematic electronic search was performed using the PubMed (MEDLINE), EMBASE and Cochrane Library databases. All studies comparing the use of corticosteroids and other infiltrative techniques in the treatment of partial lesions (excluding studies that considered subacromial impingement as inclusion criteria) were pooled, data were extracted and statistically analyzed. (3) Results: Nine studies were included in this systematic review. Those studies, composed by a total of 494 shoulders treated, have been published from 1985 to 2019. All compared techniques have shown a significant improvement over baseline condition. PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injections have been shown to be significantly more effective in both functional and pain control only in the long term. (4) Conclusions: None of the techniques prevail indisputably on the others. Anyway, the treatment of partial rotator cuff tears with PRP injections seems to lead to significantly better outcomes in terms of pain and shoulder function in long term follow up. Whereas in short and medium term follow up, PRP injections was superior only in terms of shoulder function. The small number of studies on prolotherapy did not enable us to provide an opinion on the outcomes of this technique.

Keywords: conservative treatment; corticosteroids; injections; rotator cuff tear.

Publication types

  • Review