Shoulder pain is a common occurrence and often results from a rotator cuff tendon tear. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that stabilize the shoulder and the tendon is a band of fibrous tissue that extends from the muscles attaching it to the bone. Hence, the rotator cuff provides shoulder stability and allows it to rotate. Thus, when one tears their rotator cuff tendon, the shoulder loses stability and movement becomes painful.
Rotator cuff tendon tears are treated surgically and non-surgically depending of the size of the tear. Conventional non-surgical treatments include strengthening exercises, steroid injections, and oral medications; they focus on reducing pain as opposed to restoring function and preventing further tissue damage. Surgery can repair a torn rotator cuff, but surgical success is variable. However, previous research has confirmed that biologic therapies will be useful to restore shoulder function and prevent tears from worsening. Hence, Dr. San Jun Kim and research colleagues in South Korea have set out to determine whether platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) injections combined are suitable candidates for enhancing rotator cuff tendon regeneration and improving symptoms.
Dr. Kim and colleagues conducted a clinical study comprised of twenty-four patients with partial rotator cuff tears. Half of the patients were in the control group and completed rotator cuff exercises for three months while the other twelve patients in the experimental group received injections of BMAC and PRP, prepared from their own blood and bone marrow, under ultrasound guidance at the injury site. Treatment success was measured by pain, function and tear size. While the rotator cuff tear size decreased in the experimental group when checked at 3-week and 3-month intervals, it was not significantly different from that in the control group. However, the notable difference in pain and function between the BMAC-PRP group and the control group led to the conclusion that BMAC-PRP improved pain and function in patients with partial rotator cuff tears.