Getting a wallet out of a back pocket, reaching up to put luggage in an overhead bin on an airplane, or waving across a parking lot to a friend are all motions that can become almost impossible for people who have frozen shoulder.
A painful and motion-limiting problem, frozen shoulder occurs mostly in women between the ages of 40 and 60. The problem is that the body is depositing extra collagen, a binding material, over the shoulder capsule, limiting motion around the joint. Typically, treatment includes a corticosteroid injection and considerable amounts of physical therapy, to loosen up the joint. If that doesn’t work, patients have gone through a surgical procedure that includes months of physical therapy afterwards.
Edward Wang, associate professor of orthopedics who treats numerous cases of frozen shoulder each year at Stony Brook Orthopaedic Associates, and Marie Badalemente, a professor in the Department of Orthopaedics who has worked to develop an enzyme cocktail to relieve the pain of a disfiguring hand disease, have teamed up to create an injection that targets that extra collagen.
The treatment uses injections of an enzyme called clostridial collagenase. The tandem have patented the treatment and are entering phase 2b of the Food and Drug Administration’s clinical trials, which are ongoing at 25 facilities throughout the United States and five in Australia. Stony Brook is still looking for volunteers to participate in the drug trial.
Kim Russo of Holbrook had surgery for one of her shoulders when she noticed an ad for the study. The treatment she’d already received included four months of physical therapy, surgery and then another four months of therapy.
When she received her first treatment, she noticed a change almost immediately. “I could tell after my first [shot] that there was something just a little different,” she said. After the second shot, she was doing so well that she didn’t need a third one, she said.
Badalemente helped develop the treatment, called Xiaflex, for a condition that also involves the build up of collagen in the hand. In Dupuytren’s contracture, people struggle with limited finger mobility. The enzyme breaks down the collagen, restoring function and flexibility to the fingers.