Analysis of the Clinical Outcome of Arthrographic Steroid Injection for the Treatment of Adhesive Capsulitis

Allison Tucker, Hiscox Christina, AlQahtani Saad, Ryan Bicknell*
Department of Surgery, Kingston Health Sciences Center and Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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Creative Commons License
© 2017 Bicknell et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Kingston General Hospital, Nickle 3, 76 Stuart Street, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, K7L 2V7, Tel: (613) 549-6666, Ext. 6597, Fax: (613) 548-1336; Email:



Idiopathic adhesive capsulitis is a condition of uncertain etiology characterized by pain and decreased shoulder range of motion (ROM) that occurs without a known intrinsic disorder. Many treatments have been advocated, yet the best option remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to determine if arthrographic injection of the shoulder joint with steroid and local anesthetic results in decreased pain and increased shoulder function in a cohort of patients with idiopathic adhesive capsulitis.


This is a retrospective case series of patients who were treated with an arthrographic steroid and local anesthetic injection for adhesive capsulitis. The injections were all given by the same musculoskeletal radiologist using image guidance, and the patients were all from the same surgeon's practice. Patients were evaluated with the Shoulder Pain and Disability Questionnaire (SPADI) and Constant Shoulder Score and their shoulder ROM was tested. Descriptive statistics in the form of counts, percentages, means and standard deviations were used, as well as parametric and non-parametric tests.


Thirty-three shoulders in 25 patients were examined. The average length of follow-up was 17 months. Sixty-nine percent of the cohort continued to complain of some shoulder pain in the post-injection follow-up clinic, however, their pain had improved from 8.8/10 pre-injection to 2.2/10 post-injection (p=0.01). The average score of the SPADI Pain, SPADI Disability and Constant Score were 36, 31 and 64, respectively.


All patients who received an arthrographic injection using steroid and local anesthetic reported improved pain and mobility. In addition, those who had tried other treatment modalities felt that the injection had been the most beneficial.

Keywords: Adhesive capsulitis, Frozen shoulder, Steroid, Local anesthetic, Injection, Arthrogram.