Outcomes From Conservative Treatment of Shoulder Idiopathic Adhesive Capsulitis and Factors Associated With Developing Contralateral Disease

Joseph D. Lamplot, Olivia Lillegraven, Robert H. Brophy

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2 Scopus citations


Background: Idiopathic adhesive capsulitis is a common condition resulting in painful multidirectional restriction of motion without other identifiable shoulder abnormality. First-line therapies for this condition are nonoperative, but limited data are available regarding which treatments are most effective. Factors associated with contralateral disease are not well established. Hypothesis: Younger patients will have a better response to treatments, and older patients and patients with diabetes will be more likely to develop contralateral disease. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: Patients diagnosed with idiopathic adhesive capsulitis were treated with a single intra-articular glenohumeral injection of local anesthetic and corticosteroid as well as 4 weeks of supervised physical therapy (PT). Patients were re-evaluated monthly and received additional conservative treatment based on failure to restore normal motion. Patient-reported outcome scores and range of motion were used to assess treatment efficacy. Results: Minimum 2-year follow-up data (mean, 3.4 years) were available for 60 of 75 eligible patients (80%). Patients who did not attend supervised PT as prescribed were more likely to undergo repeat injection due to a lack of adequate range of motion at follow-up (P =.003). Conservative therapy failed in 2 patients (3.3%), and they underwent arthroscopic release and manipulation under anesthesia. Twenty-two patients (36.7%) were subsequently diagnosed with contralateral idiopathic adhesive capsulitis, with a higher incidence in patients with diabetes (P =.009) and patients younger than 50 years (P =.005). American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score improved from 41.2 (95% CI, 33.0-49.4) at baseline to 92.0 (95% CI, 88.4-95.6) at final follow-up (P <.0001). Patients with diabetes had a decrease in Shoulder Activity Scale score at final follow-up (P =.049). Conclusion: Conservative treatment for idiopathic adhesive capsulitis resulted in good clinical outcomes with a low incidence of surgical intervention. Physical therapy reduced the use of a second injection as part of treatment in this treatment algorithm. Young patients and patients with diabetes may be more likely to develop contralateral disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • conservative treatment
  • corticosteroid injection
  • frozen shoulder
  • idiopathic adhesive capsulitis
  • physical therapy


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