A new study has suggested that a hormone which is commonly created during pregnancy, could be the key to treating frozen shoulder.
Frozen shoulder is a very common condition. It affects over nine million people in the US and one million people in the UK. Causing severe, sudden shoulder pain and a feeling that the arm is locked into place, it can be a debilitating condition which has so far proved very tough to treat.
The findings of the latest study carried out by a scientist from Boston University, and his research team at The Grinstaff Group, could provide a much easier treatment process. Here, we’ll look at what the study found and whether a pregnancy hormone really could be the key to melting away frozen shoulder.
How was the research conducted?
The research was inspired by Edward Rodriguez, an orthopaedic surgeon from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre. He discovered some of his female patients experienced relief from frozen shoulder when they were pregnant. He wanted to establish whether biochemical changes that occurred during pregnancy could help treat frozen shoulder.
The research team began by reading everything they could relating to pregnancy hormones. They discovered a hormone known as Relaxin, which helps to stretch the tissues and ensure they aren’t too rigid. Interestingly, both men and women create the Relaxin hormone, but pregnant women produce more of it to prepare the body for birth.
To test whether the hormone was indeed responsible for melting away frozen shoulder, the team injected it into rats that had stiff shoulder joints. They injected the Relaxin hormone directly into the shoulder joint.
What were the findings?
The team discovered that by injecting the hormone directly into the shoulder joint of rats, it managed to restore full range of motion.
It is a particularly exciting discovery given that the hormone is naturally present in the body. It poses hope for a cure for frozen shoulder. Further research will need to be carried out to determine whether the hormone has the same effect on humans. However, researchers are hopeful they have found a potential cure.
How is frozen shoulder currently treated?
At the moment, there are several forms of treatment patients can undergo to treat frozen shoulder. Physical therapy, medications, ice packs and surgery are the most common treatments prescribed to patients.
Surgery is used as a last resort when other approaches have failed to provide relief. Physiotherapy is also used after surgery to regain motion and strengthen the shoulder. There are risks which come from any surgical procedure, so these do need to be discussed with the surgeon beforehand.
Frozen shoulder largely affects those over the age of 50. It can vary significantly in severity and can prove to be debilitating, affecting sleep and the ability to carry out daily activities. While there are effective treatments available, the condition currently has a painful and often long recovery time. So, this new research provides hope for a cure which could speed up healing and significantly reduce the pain of the condition.