Background: The treatment of adhesive capsulitis is a dilemma for orthopaedic rehabilitation specialists. In this study, we assessed whether extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) improves the functional outcome of primary shoulder adhesive capsulitis.
Methods: In this prospective, randomized, controlled, single-blind clinical trial, we enrolled 40 patients with primary adhesive capsulitis to assess whether ESWT can improve the functional outcome of primary adhesive capsulitis better than oral steroid therapy. Patients were allocated to the oral steroid group or ESWT group with randomization. Functional outcome evaluations were performed using the Constant Shoulder Score (CSS) and Oxford Shoulder Score.
Results: Both groups showed significant improvement in the Oxford Shoulder Score evaluation throughout the study period. In the ESWT group, the total CSS and range of motion (ROM) parameter of the CSS in the ESWT group showed significant improvement from the fourth week that was better than that in the steroid group; the activities–of–daily living (ADL) parameter of the CSS achieved significance and was better than that in the steroid group at the sixth week. For the steroid group, pain was significantly reduced from baseline to the fourth week of the study; ADL and ROM improved at the fourth to 12th week. For the ESWT group, ADL and ROM improvements were significant from baseline to the sixth week.
Conclusion: Our results showed that ESWT can be an alternative treatment, at least in the short-term, for primary adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder. In addition, all of the side effects of ESWT were transient and tolerable.