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Manual therapy and exercise for adhesive capsulitis: a systematic review with meta-analysis.

BACKGROUND: Adhesive capsulitis (AC) affects approximately 1% of the general population. Current research lacks clear guidance on the dosage of manual therapy and exercise interventions.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this systematic review was to assess the effectiveness of manual therapy and exercise in the management of AC, with a secondary aim of describing the available literature present on the dosage of interventions.

METHODS: Eligible studies were randomized clinical/quasi-experimental trials with complete data analysis and no limits on date of publication, published in English, recruited participants >18 years of age with primary adhesive capsulitis, that had at least two groups with one group receiving manual therapy (MT) alone, exercise alone, or MT and exercise, that included at least one outcome measure of pain, disability, or external rotation range of motion, and that had dosage of visits clearly defined. An electronic search was conducted using PubMed, Embase, Cochrane, Pedro, and clinicaltrials.gov. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration Risk of Bias 2 Tool. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation was used to provide an overall assessment of the quality of evidence. Meta-analyses were conducted when possible, and dosage was discussed in narrative form.

RESULTS: Sixteen studies were included. All meta-analyses revealed non-significant effects of pain, disability, and external rotation range of motion at short- and long-term follow-up, with an overall level of evidence ranging from very low to low.

CONCLUSION: Non-significant findings with low-to-very-low-quality of evidence were found across meta-analyses, preventing seamless transition of research evidence to clinical practice. Lack of consistency in study designs, manual therapy techniques, dosing parameters, and duration of care impedes the ability to make strong recommendations regarding optimal dosage of physical therapy for individuals with AC.

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