Interventions associated with an increased or decreased likelihood of pain reduction and improved function in patients with adhesive capsulitis: a retrospective cohort study

Phys Ther. 2009 May;89(5):419-29. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20080250. Epub 2009 Mar 6.


Background and purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine whether physical therapy interventions predicted meaningful short-term improvement in 4 measures of physical health, pain, and function for patients diagnosed with adhesive capsulitis.

Participants: Data were examined from 2,370 patients (mean age=55.3 years, SD=12.4; 65% female, 35% male) classified into ICD-9 code 726.0 who had completed an episode of outpatient physical therapy.

Methods: Principal components factor analysis was used to define intervention categories from specific treatments applied during the episode of care. A nested logistic regression model was used to identify intervention categories that predicted a 50% or greater change in Physical Component Summary-12 (PCS-12), physical function (PF), bodily pain (BP), and hybrid function (HF) scores.

Results: None of the patients achieved a 50% or greater improvement in PCS-12 scores. Improvement in BP scores was more likely in patients who received joint mobility interventions (odds ratio=1.35, 95% confidence interval=1.10-1.65). Improvement in HF scores was more likely in patients who received exercise interventions (odds ratio=1.50, 95% confidence interval=1.03-2.17). Use of iontophoresis, phonophoresis, ultrasound, or massage reduced the likelihood of improvement in these 3 outcome measures by 19% to 32%.

Limitations: The authors relied on clinician-identified ICD-9 coding for the diagnosis. Impairment measures were not available to support the diagnosis, and some interventions were excluded because of infrequent use by participating therapists.

Discussion and conclusion: These results are consistent with findings from randomized clinical trials that demonstrated the effectiveness of joint mobilization and exercise for patients with adhesive capsulitis. Ultrasound, massage, iontophoresis, and phonophoresis reduced the likelihood of a favorable outcome, which suggests that use of these modalities should be discouraged.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care / methods*
  • Bursitis / complications*
  • Bursitis / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / methods