A study on the clinical effects of physical therapy and acupuncture to treat spontaneous frozen shoulder

Am J Chin Med. 2006;34(5):759-75. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X06004272.


The integration of traditional Chinese and Western medicine and their clinical effects have been widely evaluated. Many studies have shown that using a combination of these two remedies has resulted in better outcomes than using only one of them. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical technique, which plays an important role in enforcing pain control, prevention and functional improvement. In 1979, the World Health Organization (WHO) journal introduced acupuncture as a remedy for 43 diseases, including frozen shoulder. This study aims to assess the therapeutic outcomes of combining acupuncture and physical therapy to treat frozen shoulder, and hopes to establish an evidence-based study of the integration of acupuncture and western medicine in the future. A total of 75 frozen shoulder patients treated in a medical center were recruited for the study between January 2002 and December 2002. The average age of these patients was 54.8 years. The average duration of the condition was 25.8 weeks before treatment. Of the 75 patients, 30 were treated by physical therapy, 30 by acupuncture and 15 by both remedies. Before the treatment began, all patients were evaluated by assessing static pain scale, motion pain scale, active and passive ROM (range of motion) and quality of life scale sheet SF-36 (Short Form-36). The outcome was evaluated by follow-up assessments conducted at the 2nd week and 4th week of treatment sessions. All patients showed improvement in quality of life (Short Form-36). Pain was controlled better by acupuncture while ROM improved following physical therapy. However, patients treated by both methods had the best outcome. The integration of acupuncture and physical therapy to treat frozen shoulder leads to a better outcome than using only one method. The author suggests that an evidence-based foundation of the integration of Chinese and Western medicine should be established in the future, to encourage the integration of Chinese and Western medicine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Bursitis / physiopathology
  • Bursitis / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Integrative Medicine / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Quality of Life
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome