Arthrographic distension for adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)
Authors: Buchbinder et al.
References: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, issue 1, 2008
Objectives: To determine the effectiveness and safety of arthrographic distension of the glenohumeral joint in the treatment of adults with adhesive capsulitis. Search strategy: the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Review Group Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, CINAHL, and EMBASE were searched to November 2006, unrestricted by date or language.
Main results: Five trials with 196 people were included. One three-arm trial (47 participants) compared arthrographic distension using steroid and air to distension using air alone and to steroid injection alone. One trial (46 participants) compared arthrographic distension using steroid and saline to placebo. Two trials (45 and 22 participants) compared arthrographic distension using steroid to steroid injection alone. One trial (36 participants) compared arthrographic distension using steroid and saline plus physical therapy to physical therapy alone. Trials included similar study participants, but quality and reporting of data were variable. Only one trial was at low risk of bias. No meta-analysis was performed.
The trial with low risk of bias demonstrated that distension with saline and steroid was better than placebo for pain (number needed to treat to benefit (NNTB) = 2), function (NNTB = 3) and range of movement at three weeks. This benefit was maintained at six and 12 weeks only for one of two scores measuring function (NNT = 3). A second trial with high risk of bias also reported that distension combined with physical therapy improved range of movement and median percent improvement in pain (but not pain score) at eight weeks compared to physical therapy alone. Three further trials, all at high risk of bias, reported conflicting, variable effects of arthrographic distension with steroid compared to distension alone, and arthrographic distension with steroid compared to intra-articular steroid injection. The trials reported a small number of minor adverse effects, mainly pain during and after the procedure.
Authors' conclusions: There is ''silver'' level evidence that arthrographic distension with saline and steroid provides short-term benefits in pain, range of movement and function in adhesive capsulitis. It is uncertain whether this is better than alternative interventions.
Implications for research: Further well-designed trials are needed to confirm the effectiveness of arthrographic distension with saline and steroid for adhesive capsulitis, and to determine if arthrographic distension offers any additional benefit compared with intra-articular injection alone, or compared with or in combination with other active treatments.