Adhesive capsulitis: a review of current treatment

Am J Sports Med. 2010 Nov;38(11):2346-56. doi: 10.1177/0363546509348048. Epub 2010 Jan 28.


Adhesive capsulitis is characterized by a painful, gradual loss of both active and passive glenohumeral motion resulting from progressive fibrosis and ultimate contracture of the glenohumeral joint capsule. Variable nomenclature, inconsistent reporting of disease staging, and a multitude of different treatments have created a confusing and contradictory body of literature about this condition. Our purpose is to review the evidence for both nonsurgical and surgical management of adhesive capsulitis with an emphasis on level I and II studies when available. Significant deficits in the literature include a paucity of randomized controlled trials, failure to report response to treatment in a stage-based fashion, and an incomplete understanding of the disease's natural course. Recognition that the clinical stages reflect a progression in the underlying pathological changes should guide future treatments.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Arthroscopy
  • Bursitis / diagnosis*
  • Bursitis / surgery
  • Bursitis / therapy
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Nerve Block
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Shoulder Joint / injuries
  • Shoulder Joint / pathology*
  • Shoulder Joint / surgery


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal