The effectiveness of conservative and surgical treatment for shoulder stiffness: a systematic review of current literature

Br Med Bull. 2018 Sep 1;127(1):111-143. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldy025.

Abstract

Introduction: Currently, no therapeutic intervention is universally accepted, and the most effective management for restoring motion and diminishing pain in patients with shoulder stiffness has yet to be defined. This systematic review analyses outcomes of conservative and surgical interventions to treat shoulder stiffness.

Source of data: A systematic review of literature according to the PRISMA guidelines was performed. A comprehensive search of PubMed, Medline, CINAHL, Cochrane, Embase, Ovid and Google Scholar databases using various combinations of the keywords 'shoulder', 'shoulder stiffness', 'stiff shoulder', 'conservative', since inception of databases to June 2018 was performed.

Areas of agreement: Shoulder stiffness could be treated with conservative means including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, manipulation under anaesthesia, and arthroscopic capsular release.

Areas of controversy: No therapeutic intervention is universally accepted, and the most effective management to restore motion and diminish pain in patients with shoulder stiffness has yet to be defined.

Growing points: The rate of failure after treatment for stiff shoulder is higher in the surgical group than in the conservative group.

Areas timely for developing research: There is insufficient evidence to establish whether surgical or conservative management is the best choice to manage shoulder stiffness. Prospective, randomized studies are needed to establish whether surgical or conservative management produce a clinically relevant difference in functional outcome.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroscopy*
  • Conservative Treatment*
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / physiopathology
  • Joint Diseases / rehabilitation
  • Joint Diseases / therapy*
  • Manipulation, Orthopedic
  • Shoulder Injuries / physiopathology
  • Shoulder Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Shoulder Injuries / therapy*
  • Shoulder Joint / injuries
  • Shoulder Joint / physiopathology*
  • Treatment Outcome