Suprascapular nerve block for the treatment of frozen shoulder in primary care: a randomized trial

Br J Gen Pract. 1999 Jan;49(438):39-41.


Background: Frozen shoulder is a common problem in general practice, but its treatment is difficult since none of the currently used therapies are proven to be effective.

Aim: To assess the effectiveness of suprascapular nerve block to relieve pain and improve range of movement, and its suitability for use in primary care. This small study by a single practitioner aims to justify a larger multicentred trial.

Method: A randomized trial of 30 patients to compare a single suprascapular nerve block with a course of intra-articular injections. Patients' pain levels and ranges of movement were assessed over a 12-week period.

Results: Suprascapular nerve block produced a faster and more complete resolution of pain and restoration of range of movement than a series of intra-articular injections. These differences were confirmed by statistical analysis using the Mann-Whitney U-test (P < 0.01 for pain levels and P < 0.05 for range of abduction and external rotation.)

Conclusions: This study suggests that suprascapular nerve block is a safe and effective treatment for frozen shoulder in primary care, and justifies a larger multicentred trial using independent blinded assessment. Such a study should include a third group treated by suprascapular nerve block without steroid; a more comprehensive assessment of patient debility.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Bupivacaine
  • Bursitis / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nerve Block / methods*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Shoulder Pain / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide
  • Bupivacaine