1. Hollisaz, Mohammad Taghi MD
  2. Khatibi Aghda, Amidoddin MD
  3. Asheghan, Mahsa MD
  4. Amanollahi, Asadollah MD
  5. Hashemi, Seyed Ebrahim MD


Purpose: To compare local acupuncture and auricular acupuncture with physiotherapy in the treatment of frozen shoulder.


Methods: A randomized clinical trial with 3 parallel groups in an outpatient clinic was conducted at a university hospital. In total, 116 participants with frozen shoulder were randomly allocated to 3 groups and underwent physiotherapy or local acupuncture or auricular acupuncture. Shoulder active and passive ranges of motion were assessed, and the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index questionnaire was used to assess pain and disability before and after the treatments.


Results: Active and passive ranges of motion were best improved by physiotherapy in abduction and flexion (all P < .001). Passive external rotation was best increased after physiotherapy (P = .030). For active external and internal rotation, and also for passive internal rotation, there were no significant differences among the treatments. Pain reduction was more successful with acupuncture, especially with auricular acupuncture (P < .001). Auricular acupuncture was more effective in improving patients' functional abilities (P < .001). None of the participants reported any side effects resulting from the treatments.


Conclusion: Acupuncture, particularly auricular acupuncture, is more effective in relieving pain and decreasing disability than physiotherapy. All the interventions were beneficial in improving range of motion.