Comparison of the efficacy of local corticosteroid injection and physical therapy for the treatment of adhesive capsulitis

Rheumatol Int. 2001 Sep;21(1):20-3. doi: 10.1007/s002960100127.


Adhesive capsulitis is a common musculoskeletal disorder mainly affecting middle aged adults. It is associated with generalized pain and tenderness in the shoulder joint with severe loss of active and passive ranges of motion in all planes. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of local steroid injection and physical therapy measures for treating this disorder. Ten male and 10 female patients were enrolled in the study. The patients were divided randomly into two groups and treated with either 40 mg methylprednisolone acetate injection with local anesthetic (group A) or physical therapy measures plus nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (group B). The mean ages of the patients were 55.6+/-12.2 years in group A and 56.4+/-7.1 years in group B. Clinical assessment was performed on initial visit and at the 2nd and 12th weeks. Active and passive range of motion was recorded and the visual analogue scale was used to evaluate pain intensity. At initial visit, these data in both groups of patients were not statistically different. Although both treatment regimens resulted in significant improvement in range of motion, the differences between mean external rotation at the 2nd and 12th weeks were not statistically significant in either group. The improvement in range of motion at the end of the study was similar in both groups (P>0.05). All patients reported improvement during the study. The differences between mean VAS scores at the 2nd and 12th weeks were statistically significant in both groups. In conclusion, local steroid injection therapy was found to be as effective as physical therapy for the treatment of adhesive capsulitis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Bursitis / drug therapy*
  • Bursitis / physiopathology
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indomethacin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Indomethacin / therapeutic use
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Lidocaine / administration & dosage
  • Lidocaine / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / administration & dosage
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Range of Motion, Articular


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • acemetacin
  • Lidocaine
  • Methylprednisolone
  • Indomethacin