A type of shockwave therapy could offer a safe treatment option for people with diabetes who have a condition called frozen shoulder.
Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis (ACS), develops when ligaments near the shoulder become stiff. People with diabetes can be up to twice as likely to develop frozen shoulder.
When symptoms become severe, patients might be treated with steroid injections or surgery, but scientists at Sapienza University of Romen, Italy believe extracorporeal shockwave therapy (EWST) could provide a safer alternative.
This small study, which included 50 patients with diabetes, assessed ESWT on functional outcomes on frozen shoulder. The participants had an overall mean pain duration of 15.7 months.
ESWT was received once a week for three weeks, with functional improvements found to be significant at two months compared to before the study.
“Results indicate that ESWT may be effective, feasible, and well tolerated and can therefore represent a viable alternative to steroids for ACS treatment in patients with diabetes,” said the researchers.
One of the big problems with steroid injections in diabetes patients is that they can significantly raise blood glucose levels; they also have a shorter duration of benefit.
“Therefore, it would be preferable to avoid steroids and opt for alternative therapies in these individuals,” added the authors, who now plan to confirm their findings in a randomised controlled trial.
“Though observational and uncontrolled, this pilot trial is, to the best of our knowledge, the first study assessing the effect of ESWT on functional outcomes in patients with diabetes with ACS.”
The study was published in the online journal Diabetes Care.

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