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OBJECTIVE: The Anti-Freaze-F (AFF) trial assessed the feasibility of conducting a definitive trial to determine whether intra-articular injection of adalimumab can reduce pain and improve function in people with pain-predominant early-stage frozen shoulder. DESIGN: Multicentre, randomised feasibility trial, with embedded qualitative study. SETTING: Four UK National Health Service (NHS) musculoskeletal and related physiotherapy services. PARTICIPANTS: Adults ≥18 years with new episode of shoulder pain attributable to early-stage frozen shoulder. INTERVENTIONS: Participants were randomised (centralised computer generated 1:1 allocation) to either ultrasound-guided intra-articular injection of: (1) adalimumab (160 mg) or (2) placebo (saline (0.9% sodium chloride)). Participants and outcome assessors were blinded to treatment allocation. Second injection of allocated treatment (adalimumab 80 mg) or equivalent placebo was administered 2-3 weeks later. PRIMARY FEASIBILITY OBJECTIVES: (1) Ability to screen and identify participants; (2) willingness of eligible participants to consent and be randomised; (3) practicalities of delivering the intervention; (4) SD of the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI) score and attrition rate at 3 months. RESULTS: Between 31 May 2022 and 7 February 2023, 156 patients were screened of whom 39 (25%) were eligible. The main reasons for ineligibility were other shoulder disorder (38.5%; n=45/117) or no longer in pain-predominant frozen shoulder (33.3%; n=39/117). Of the 39 eligible patients, nine (23.1%) consented to be randomised (adalimumab n=4; placebo n=5). The main reason patients declined was because they preferred receiving steroid injection (n=13). All participants received treatment as allocated. The mean time from randomisation to first injection was 12.3 (adalimumab) and 7.2 days (placebo). Completion rates for patient-reported and clinician-assessed outcomes were 100%. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrated that current NHS musculoskeletal physiotherapy settings yielded only small numbers of participants, too few to make a trial viable. This was because many patients had passed the early stage of frozen shoulder or had already formulated a preference for treatment. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN 27075727, EudraCT 2021-03509-23, NCT05299242 (REC 21/NE/0214).

Original publication




Journal article


Bmj open

Publication Date





Musculoskeletal disorders, Patients, Shoulder, Humans, Adalimumab, Female, Male, Middle Aged, Injections, Intra-Articular, Bursitis, Feasibility Studies, Adult, Shoulder Pain, Treatment Outcome, Aged, Pain Measurement, United Kingdom, Ultrasonography, Interventional