Clinical effectiveness of bee venom acupuncture and physiotherapy in the treatment of adhesive capsulitis

Bee venom acupuncture (BVA) has been applied in the treatment of adhesive capsulitis (AC) in the clinical field. The authors conducted this study to investigate whether the addition of BVA to physiotherapy (PT) would be more effective in the management of AC, and whether BVA would have a dose-dependent effect. Sixty-eight patients diagnosed with AC were recruited into 3 groups; BV 1 (1:10,000 BVA plus PT), BV 2 (1:30,000 BVA plus PT), and group 3 (normal saline (NS) injection, as a control, plus PT). PT was composed of 15 minutes of transcutaneus electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), transcutaneus infrared thermotherapy (TDP), and manual PT. They gave treatments in 16 sessions within 2 months. Shoulder pain and disability index (SPADI), pain visual analogue scale (VAS), and 3) active/passive range of motion (ROM) were measured before treatment and at 2, 4, 8, and 12 weeks following the treatment. All 3 groups displayed statistically significant improvements in SPADI, pain VAS scores, and active/passive ROM. The BV 1 group showed substantially superior outcomes in SPADI at 8 and 12 weeks, in pain VAS (at rest) at 8 weeks, and in pain VAS (during exercise) at 12 weeks than the NS group. No significant differences were found in active/passive ROM among all the groups.

The authors concluded that BVA combined with PT can be more effective in improving pain and function than PT alone in AC. They added though that the effectiveness of BVA was not shown to be dose-dependent.