Manipulation under Anesthesia versus Non-Surgical Treatment for Patients with Frozen Shoulder Contracture Syndrome: A Systematic Review

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Aug 7;19(15):9715. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19159715.


Purpose: To investigate the efficacy of manipulation under anesthesia (MUA) compared to other non-surgical therapeutic strategies for patients with frozen shoulder contracture syndrome (FSCS). Methods: A systematic review of literature was conducted. A literature search was performed in MEDLINE, EMBASE, PEDro, Cochrane Central Library and Scopus. Only randomized controlled trials were included and assessed for critical appraisal through the Cochrane Collaborations tools. Results: Five randomized controlled trials were included. The overall risk of bias (RoB) was high in 4 out of 5 of the included studies. MUA was found to be not superior in terms of reduction of pain and improvement of function when compared to cortisone injections with hydrodilatation (mean regression coefficient MUA −2.77 vs. injection −2.75; 95% CI (−1.11 to 1.15)) and home exercise (mean difference 95% CI: 0.2 (−0.64 to 1.02)) in the short term (3 months), and cortisone injections with hydrodilatation (mean regression coefficient MUA 3.13 vs. injection 3.23; 95% CI (−0.90 to 1.11)) in the long term (>6 months). Moreover, if compared to structured physiotherapy, MUA highlighted a higher Oxford Shoulder Score at final 1-year follow up (mean difference 95% CI: 1.05 (−1.28 to 3.39); p = 0.38). Similar results were obtained for disability, with statistically no significant long-term (>12 months) differences between MUA and home exercise (mean difference 95% CI: 0 (−3.2 to 3.2)) or structured physiotherapy (mean difference 95% CI: −0.50 (−5.70 to 4.70); p = 0.85)). Only two trials reported adverse events. Conclusions: This review suggested that limited and inconsistent evidence currently exists on the efficacy of MUA compared to other non-surgical strategies in the management of patients with FSCS. Future research should focus on clinical trials with higher methodological quality.

Keywords: adhesive capsulitis; frozen shoulder; frozen shoulder contracture syndrome; manipulation under anesthesia; physiotherapy; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia*
  • Bursitis* / therapy
  • Contracture* / therapy
  • Cortisone*
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Modalities


  • Cortisone

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.