Rehabilitative treatments in adhesive capsulitis: a systematic review

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2022 Nov;62(11):1505-1511. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.22.13054-9. Epub 2022 Feb 18.


Introduction: Adhesive capsulitis is a disease of unknown etiology. Conservative therapy is based on the use of multimodal techniques (instrumental physical therapy, exercise, physiokinesitherapy and anti-inflammatory drug therapy). Yet, there is no consensus on which conservative therapy treatment is best for the management of the patient with adhesive capsulitis. The aim of this study is to define the state of the art and guide specialists in choosing effective treatments for adhesive capsulitis.

Evidence acquisition: We performed a search on PubMed; Web of Science, Scopus, Chochrane Library and PEDRo selecting 20 RCT studies published between 2010 and 2020 in any language of which the Full-Text was available with a PEDro Score greater than or equal to 6, and which compared any conservative treatment with no treatment or other conservative treatments.

Evidence synthesis: For this study, 1089 subjects were taken into consideration and 19 out of the 20 studies compared multimodal therapies: 6 directly assessed the effectiveness of physical therapies (3 US; 1 WBC; 1 HILT and 1 rESWT), 3 studies evaluated the efficacy of manual glenohumeral mobilizations, 4 compared manual and mechanical stretching techniques, and 7 evaluated the effectiveness of different supervised group or home therapeutic exercises in multimodal rehabilitation programs. The characteristics of the selected studies were very heterogeneous, and sample were not uniform as regards stage of disease, level of ROM reduction and mean duration of complaints).

Conclusions: Ultrasound therapy did not prove effective on the pathology, unlike radial shockwaves and cryotherapy. The joint mobilizations, techniques adopting posterior glenohumeral approaches and high-end mobilizations would appear to be effective both manual and instrumental techniques. In general stretching is a mandatory implementation in rehabilitation programs. From the data in the literature, it does not emerge the possibility of identifying treatment guidelines execpt for individual or group exercises, that are possibly oriented to the performance of daily activities.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Bursitis* / drug therapy
  • Bursitis* / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Shoulder Joint*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents