Long-term effectiveness of bee venom acupuncture and physiotherapy in the treatment of adhesive capsulitis: a one-year follow-up analysis of a previous randomized controlled trial

J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Dec;20(12):919-24. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0220.


Objective: An earlier randomized controlled trial (RCT) study showed that bee venom acupuncture (BVA) in combination with physiotherapy can be more effective in functional improvement and pain reduction in patients with adhesive capsulitis (AC). The objective of the current study was to examine the long-term effect of BVA in combination with physiotherapy on AC of the shoulder.

Design: Retrospective 1-year follow-up analysis of a previous RCT using a telephone interview method.

Setting: Outpatient joint center at the Gang Dong Kyung Hee University Hospital of Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Patients: A total of 192 patients had been enrolled in the previous study, and 124 of these were excluded from the current study. Sixty-eight patients who had been treated with combined BVA and physiotherapy for AC of the shoulder for 2 months were interviewed at approximately 1 year after treatment by telephone.

Intervention: Sixty of 68 patients were included in the follow-up analysis. Twenty received BV 1 treatment (1:10,000 concentration BVA plus physiotherapy), 22 received BV 2 treatment (1:30,000 concentration BVA plus physiotherapy), and 18 received control treatment (normal saline injection plus physiotherapy).

Outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was Shoulder Pain And Disability Index (SPADI) score. Secondary outcome measure was score on verbal rating scale for pain and patient satisfaction.

Results: Baseline characteristics of the groups did not significantly differ. SPADI scores at 1 year significantly differed between the BV 1 group and the control group (p=0.043). No significant differences were found in pain verbal rating scores after 1 year. Treatment satisfaction with therapy was also assessed, and the BV 1 and BV 2 groups showed significantly greater satisfaction compared with the control group.

Conclusions: BVA combined with physiotherapy remains clinically effective 1 year after treatment and may help improve long-term quality of life in patients with AC of the shoulder.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Apitherapy*
  • Bee Venoms / therapeutic use*
  • Bursitis / drug therapy
  • Bursitis / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Shoulder Pain / drug therapy
  • Shoulder Pain / therapy*


  • Bee Venoms