Long-Term Effectiveness of Bee Venom Acupuncture and Physiotherapy in the Treatment of Adhesive Capsulitis

An earlier randomized controlled trial (RCT) study showed that bee venom acupuncture (BVA) in combination with physiotherapy can be more effective in functional improvement and decreasing pain in patients with adhesive capsulitis (AC). This study’s aim was to examine the long-term effect of BVA in combination with physiotherapy on AC of the shoulder. Retrospective 1-year follow-up analysis of a previous RCT using a telephone interview method. A total of 192 patients had been enrolled in the previous study, and 124 of these were excluded from the current study. Sixty-eight patients who had been treated with combined BVA and physiotherapy for AC of the shoulder for 2 months were interviewed at approximately 1 year following treatment by telephone. 60 of 68 patients were included in the follow-up analysis. Twenty received BV 1 treatment (1:10,000 concentration BVA plus physiotherapy), 22 received BV 2 treatment (1:30,000 concentration BVA plus physiotherapy), and 18 received control treatment (normal saline injection plus physiotherapy). The primary outcome measure was Shoulder Pain And Disability Index (SPADI) score. Secondary outcome measure was score on verbal rating scale for pain and patient satisfaction. Baseline characteristics of the groups did not significant variation. SPADI scores at 1 year significantly varied between the BV 1 group and the control group (p=0.043). No significant differences were found in pain verbal rating scores after 1 year. Treatment satisfaction with therapy was also assessed, and the BV 1 and BV 2 groups exhibited significantly greater satisfaction compared with the control group.

BVA combined with physiotherapy retains clinical efficacy 1 year after treatment and might help improve long-term quality of life in patients with AC of the shoulder.