Effectiveness of therapeutic ultrasound in adhesive capsulitis

Joint Bone Spine. 2008 Jul;75(4):445-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2007.07.016. Epub 2008 May 2.


Objective: There is a lack of evidence about the effectiveness of therapeutic ultrasound (US) compared with placebo US in the treatment of adhesive capsulitis. This study was performed to assess the effectiveness of therapeutic US in the treatment of adhesive capsulitis.

Methods: Forty-nine patients with adhesive capsulitis were randomized to US (n=25) and sham US (n=24) groups. Superficial heat and an exercise program were given to both groups. Ultrasound was applied to US group and imitative ultrasound was applied to sham US group for 2 weeks. Shoulder range of motion (ROM), pain and Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI) were assessed at the beginning, after treatment and after 3 months (control). Short Form-36 (SF-36) was applied for assessing general health status at the beginning and after 3 months. Compliance with the home exercise program was recorded daily on a chart for 3 months.

Results: Shoulder ROM, pain with motion, two subscales and total score of SPADI and physical component summary score of SF-36 were improved significantly in both groups after the treatment and after 3 months (p<0.0001). Improvements in flexion, inner and outer rotation values were significantly higher in the US group when we compared the differences between post- and pre-treatment values of shoulder ROM. The differences between control and pre-treatment values of inner and outer rotation were also significantly higher in the US group (p=0.002 and p=0.02 respectively). No significant difference was detected in pain, SPADI and SF-36 scores between groups. The exercise compliance was significantly higher in the sham US group (p=0.04).

Conclusion: Our results suggest that US compared with sham US gives no relevant benefit in the treatment of adhesive capsulitis. Effectiveness of US might be masked by worse pre-treatment values of the US group and higher exercise compliance of the sham US group.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bursitis / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonic Therapy*